THE UNIVERSITY OF
THE WILMER COLLECTION
OF CIVIL WAR NOVELS
RICHARD H. WILMER, JR.
Digitized by the Internet Archive
in 2010 with funding from
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
CHPT. CHHRLES KING'S
Popular Military Novels.
Illustrated. i2mo. Extra cloth. $1.25.
THE COLONEL'S DATJGHTER.
Illustrated. i2mo. Extra cloth. $1.25.
Illustrated. i2mo. Extra cloth. $1.25.
STARLIGHT RANCH, and Other Stories.
i2ino. Cloth. $1.00.
i2mo. Extra cloth, ^pi.oo.
LARAHIE; or, The Queen of Bedlam.
i2mo. Cloth. $1.00.
THE DESERTER, and FROM THE RANKS.
i2mo. Extra cloth. Ji.oo.
TWO SOLDIERS, and DTJNRAVEN RANCH.
i2mo. Extra cloth. $1.00.
J. B. LIPPINCOTT COMPANY, Publishers,
CHARLES KING, U.S.A.,
AUTHOR OF "THE COLONEL'S DAUOHTEB.'"
J. B. LIPPINCOTT COMPANY.
Copyright, 1884, by J. B. Lippincott & Co.
The incidents of this little story occurred
some twelve years ago, and it was then that the
story was mainly written.
If it meet with half the kindness bestowed
upon his later work it will more than fulfil the
It was just after Christmas, and discontent-
edly enougli I had left my cosy surroundings in
New Orleans, to take a business-trip through the
counties on the border-line between Tennessee
and northern Mississippi and Alabama. One
sunny afternoon I found myself on the " freight
and passenger" of what- was termed "The Great
Southern Mail Route." "We had been trundling
slowly, sleepily along ever since the conductor's
" all aboard !" after dinner; had met the Mobile
Express at Corinth when the shadows were al-
ready lengthening upon the ruddy, barren-look-
ing landscape, and now, with luka just before
us, and the warning whistle of the engine shriek-
ing in our ears with a discordant pertinacity
attained only on our Southern railroads, I took
a last glance at the sun just disappearing behind
the distant forest in our wake, drew the last
Q KITTY'S CONQUEST.
breath of life from my cigar, and then, taking
advantage of the halt at the station, strolled back
from the dinginess of the smoking-car to more
comfortable quarters in the rear.
There were only three passenger-cars on the
train, and, judging from the scarcity of occu-
pants, one would have been enough. Elbowing
my way through the gaping, lazy swarms of un-
savory black humanity on the platform, and the
equally repulsive- looking knots of "poor white
trash," the invariable features of every country
stopping-place south of Mason and Dixon, I
reached the last car, and entering, chose one of
a dozen empty seats, and took a listless look at
my fellow-passengers, — six in all, — and of them,
two only worth a second glance.
One, a young, perhaps very young, lady, so
girlish, pefe'fe, and pretty she looked even after
the long day's ride in a sooty car. Her seat was
some little distance from the one into which I
had dropped, but that was because the other
party to be depicted was installed within two of
her, and, with that indefinable sense of repulsion
which induces all travellers, strangers to one
another, to get as far apart as possible on enter-
ing a car, I had put four seats 'twixt him and
me, — and afterwards wished I hadn't.
It was rude to turn and stare at a young girl, —
travelling alone, too, as she appeared to be. I
did it involuntarily the first time, and found my-
KITTY'S CONQUEST. 7
self repeating the performance again and again,
simply because I couldn't help it, — she looked
prettier and prettier every time.
A fair, oval, tiny face; a somewhat super-
cilious nose, and not-the-least-so mouth ; a
mouth, on the contrary, that even though its
pretty lips were closed, gave one the intangible
yet positive assurance of white and regular
teeth ; eyes whose color I could not see because
their drooping lids were fringed with heavy
curving lashes, but which subsequently turned
out to be a soft, dark gray ; and hair ! — hair that
made one instinctively gasp with admiration,
and exclaim (mentally), " If it's only real !" — hair
that rose in heavy golden masses above and
around the diminutive ears, almost hiding them
from view, and fell in braids (not braids either,
because it ivasn't braided) and rolls — only that
sounds breakfasty — and masses again, — it must
do for both, — heavy golden masses and rolls and
waves and straggling offshoots and disorderly
delightfulness all down the little lady's neck,
and, landing in a lump on the back of the seat,
seemed to come surging up to the top again,
ready for another tumble.
It looked as though it hadn't been " fixed"
since the day before, and yet as though it would
be a shame to touch it; and was surmounted,
" sat upon," one might say, by the jauntiest of
little travelling- hats of some dark material (don't
g KITTY'S CONQUEST.
expect a bachelor, and an elderly one at that, to
be explicit on such a point), this in turn being
topped by the pertest little mite of a feather
sticking bolt upright from a labyrinth of beads,
bows, and buckles at the side.
More of this divinity was not to be viewed
from my post of observation, as all below the
fragile white throat with its dainty collar and
the handsome fur " boa," thrown loosely back
on account of the warmth of the car, was under-
going complete occultation by the seats in front;
yet enough was visible to impress one with a
longing to become acquainted with the diminu-
tive entirety, and to convey an idea of cultivation
and refinement somewhat unexpected on that
particular train, and in that utterly unlovely
section of the country.
Naturally I wondered who she was; where
she was going; how , it happened that she, so
young, so innocent, so be-petted and be-spoilt in
appearance, should be journeying alone through
the thinly settled counties of upper Mississippi.
Had she been a "through" passenger, she would
have taken the express, not this grimy, stop-at-
every-shanty, slow-going old train on which we
were creeping eastward.
In fact, the more I peeped, the more I mar-
velled ; and I found myself almost unconsciously
inaua-uratino- a detective movement with a view
to ascertaining her identity.
KITTTS CONqUEST. 9
All this time mademoiselle was apparently
Bereiiely unconscious of my scrutiny and deeply
absorbed in some object — a book, probably — in
her lap. A stylish Russia-leather satchel was
hanging among the hooks above her head, — evi-
dently her property, — and those probably, too,
were her initials in monogram, stamped in gilt
upon the flap, too far off for my fading eyes to
distinguish, yet tantalizingly near.
Now I'm a lawyer, and as such claim an in-
disputable right to exercise the otherwise femi-
nine prerogative of yielding to curiosity. It's
our business to be curious ; not with the sordid
views and mercenary intents of Templeton Jitt;
but rather as Dickens's " Bar" was curious, —
affably, apologetically, professionally curious. In
fact, as " Bar" himself said, " we lawyers are
curious," and take the same lively interest in the
affairs of our fellow-men (and women) as maiden
aunts are popularly believed to exercise in the
case of a pretty niece with a dozen beaux, or a
motherrin-law in the daily occupations of the
happy husband of her eldest daughter. Why
need I apologize further ? I left my seat ; zig-
zagged down the aisle; took a drink of water
which I didn't want, and, returning, the long
look at the monogram which I did.
There they were, two gracefully intertwining
letters ; a " C" and a " K." Now was it C. K.
or K C. ? K C. K., what did it stand for ?
10 KITTY'S CONqUEST.
I thought of all manner of names as I regained
my seat J some pretty, some tragic, some com-
monplace, none satisfactory. Then I concluded
to begin over; put the cart before the horse, and
try K C.
Now, it's ridiculous enough to confess to it,
but Ku-Klux was the first thing I thought of;
K. C. didn't stand for it at all, but Ku-Klux
would force itself upon my imagination. Well,
everything was Ku-Klux just then. Congress
was full of them ; so was the South ; — Ku-Klux
had brought me up there; in fact I had spent
most of the afternoon in planning an elaborate
line of defence for a poor devil whom I knew to
be innocent, however blood-guilty might have
been his associates. Ku-Klux had brought that
lounging young cavalryman (the other victim
reserved for description), who — confound him —
had been the cause of my taking a metaphorical
back seat and an actual front one on entering
the car; but Ku-Klux couldn't have brought her
there; and after all, what business had I bothei-
ing my tired brains over this young beauty ? T
was nothing to her, why should she be such a
torment to me ?
In twenty minutes we would be due at Sand-
brook, and there I was to leave the train and
jog across the country to the plantation of Judge
Summers, an old friend of my father's and of
mine, who had written me to visit him on ray
KITTY'S CONQUEST. U
trip, tliat we might consult together over some
intricate cases that of late had been occupying
his attention in that vicinity. In fact, I was too
elderly to devote so much thought and specula-
tion to a damsel still in her teens, so I resolutely
turned eyes and tried to turn thoughts to some-
The lamps were being lighted, and the glare
from the one overhead fell full upon my other
victim, the cavalryman. I knew him to be such
from the crossed sabres in gold upon his jaunty
forage cap, and the heavy array cloak which was
muffled cavalier-like over his shoulders, display-
ing to vivid advantage its gorgeous lining of
canary color, yet completely concealing any in-
terior garments his knightship might be pleased
Something in my contemplation of this young
warrior amused me to that extent that I won-
dered he had escaped more than a casual glance
before. Lolling back in his seat, with a huge
pair of top boots spread out upon the cushion in
front, he had the air, as the French say, of thor-
ough self-appreciation and superiority; he was
gazing dreamily up at the lamp overhead and
whistling softly to himself, with what struck me
forcibly as an affectation of utter nonchalance;
what struck me still more forcibly was that he
did not once look at the young beauty so close
behind him ; on the contrary, there was an evi-
12 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
dent attempt on his part to appear suMimely in-
different to her presence.
Now that's very unusual in a young man under
the circumstances, isn't it? I had an idea that
these Charles O'Malleys were heart-smashers;
but this conduct hardly tallied with any of my
preconceived notions on the subject of heart-
smashing, and greatly did I marvel and conjec-
ture as to the cause of this extraordinary diver-
gence from the manners and customs of young
men, — soldiers in particular, when, of a sudden,
Mars arose, threw off his outer vestment, emerged
as it were from a golden glory of yellow shelter-
tent; discovered a form tall, slender, graceful,
and erect, the whole clad in a natty shell-jacket
and riding-breeches ; stalked up to the stove in
the front of the car ; produced, filled, and lighted
a smoke-begrimed little meerschaum; opened
the door with a snap; let himself out with a
bang; and disappeared into outer darkness.
Looking quickly around, I saw that the fair
face of C. K. or K. C. was uplifted ; furthermore,
that there was an evident upward tendency on
the part of the aforementioned supercilious nose,
entirely out of proportion with the harmonious
and combined movement of the other features;
furthermore, that the general effect was that of
maidenly displeasure; and, lastly, that the evi-
dent object of such divine wrath was, beyond all
peradventure, the vanished knight of the sabre.
KITTY'S CONQUEST. 13
" Now, my lad," thought I, " what have you
done to put your foot in it ?"
Just then the door reopened, and in came, not
Mars, but the conductor ; and that functionary,
proceeding direct to where she sat, thus addressed
the pretty object of my late cogitations (I didn't
listen, but I heard) :
" It'll be all right, miss. I telegraphed the
judge from luka, and reckon he'll be over with
the carriage to meet you ; but if he nor none of
the folks ain't there, I'll see that you're looked
after all right. Old Jake Biggs '11 be there, most
like, and then you're sure of getting over to the
judge's to-night anyhow."
Here I pricked up my ears. Beauty smilingly
expressed her gratitude, and, in smiling, corrob-
orated my theory about the teeth to the most
" The colonel," continued the conductor, who
would evidently have been glad of any excuse to
talk with her for hours, " the colonel, him and
Mr. Pe}i:on, went over to Holly Springs three
days ago; but the smash-up on the Mississippi
Central must have been the cause of their not
getting to the junction in time to meet you.
That's why I brought you along on this train ;
'twasn't no use to wait for them there."
" Halloo !' thought I at this juncture, " here's
my chance ; he means Judge Summers by ' the
judge's,' and ' the colonel' is Harrod Summers,
14 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
of course, and Ned Peyton, that young reprobate
who has been plajdng fast and loose among the
marshals and sheriffs, is the Mr. Peyton he
speaks of; and this must be some friend or rela-
tive of Miss Pauline's going to visit her. The
gentlemen have been sent to meet her, and have
been delayed by that accident. I'm in luck;" so
up I jumped, elbowed the obliging conductor to
. one side ; raised my hat, and introduced myself,
— " Mr. Brandon, of New Orleans, an old friend
of Judge Summers, on my way to visit him ;
delighted to be of any service ; pray accept my
escort," etc., etc. — all somewhat incoherent, but
apparently satisfactory. Mademoiselle graciously
acknowledged my offer ; smilingly accepted my
services ; gave me a seat by her side ; and we
were soon busied in a pleasant chat about "Pau-
line," her cousin, and " Harrod," her other
cousin and great admiration. Soon I learned
that it was K. C, that K. C. was Kitty Carring-
ton ; that Kitty Carrington was Judge Sum-
mers's niece, and that Judge Summers's niece
was going to visit Judge Summers's niece's
uncle; that they had all spent the months of
September and October together in the north
when she first returned from abroad; that she
had been visiting " Aunt Mary" in Louisville
ever since, and that "Aunt Mary" had been with
her abroad for ever so long, and was just as good
and Bweet as she could be. In fact, I was fast
KITTY'S CONQUEST. 15
learning all my charming little companion's
family history, and beginning to feel tolerably
well acquainted with and immensely proud of
her, when the door opened with a snap, closed
with a bang, and, issuing from outer darkness,
Now, when Mars re-entered, he did so pretty
much as I have seen his brother button-wearers
march into their company quarters on inspection
morning, with an air of determined ferocity and
unsparing criticism ; but when Mars caught sight
of me, snugly ensconced beside the only belle on
the train, the air suddenly gave place to an ex-
pression of astonishment. He dropped a gaunt-
let; picked it up; turned red; and then, with
sudden resumption of lordlyindifterence, plumped
himself down into his seat in as successful an at-
tempt at expressing ""Who cares?" without say-
ing it, as I ever beheld.
Chancing to look at Miss Kitty, I immediately
discovered that a little cloud had settled upon
her fair brow, and detected the nose on another
rise, so said I, —
" What's the matter ? Our martial friend
seems to have fallen under the ban of your dis-
pleasure," and then was compelled to smile at
the vindictiveness of the reply :
" He ! he has indeed ! Why, he had the im-
pertinence to speak to me before you came in;
asked me if I was not the Miss Carrinffton ex-
16 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
pected at Judge Summers's ; actually offered to
escort me there, as the colonel had failed to meet
" Indeed ! Then I suppose I, too, am horribly
at fault," said I, laughing, " for I've done pretty
much the same thing ?"
" Nonsense !" said Miss Kit. " Can't you un-
derstand ? He's a Yankee, — a Yankee officer !
You don't suppose I'd allow myself, a Southern
.girl whose home was burnt by Yankees and
whose only brother fought all through the war
against them, — you don't suppose I'd allow my-
self to accept any civility from a Yankee, do
you ?" and the bright eyes shot a vengeful glance
at the dawdling form in front, and a terrific pout
straightway settled upon her lips.
Amused, yet unwilling to offend, I merely
smiled and said that it had not occurred to me ;
but immediately asked her how long before my
entrance this had happened.
" Oh, about half an hour; he never made more
than one attempt."
" "What answer did you give him ?"
" Answer ! — why ! I couldn't say much of
anything, you know, but merely told him I
wouldn't trouble him, and said it in such a way
that he knew well enough what was meant. He
took the hint quickly enough, and turned red as
fire, and said very solemnly, * I ask your par-
don,' put on his cap and marched back to his
KITTY'S CONQUEST. 17
seat." Here came a pretty little imitation of
Mars raising his chin and squaring his shoulders
as he walked off.
I smiled again, and then began to think it all
over. Mars was a total stranger to me. I had
never seen him before in my life, and, so long as
we remained on an equal footing as strangers to
the fair K. C, I had been disposed to indulge in
a little of the usual jealousy of " military inter-
ference," and, from my exalted stand-point as a
man of the world and at least ten years his senior
in age, to look upon him as a box' with no other
attractions than his buttons and a good figure ;
but Beauty's answer set me to thinking. I was
a Yankee, too, only she didn't know it; if she
had, perhaps Mars would have stood the better
chance of the two. I, too, had borne arms
against the Sunny South (as a valiant militia-
man when the first call came in '61), and had only
escaped wearing the uniform she detested from
the fact that our regimental rig was gray, and
my talents had never conspired to rai^e me above
the rank of lance-corporal. I, too, had partici-
pated in the desecration of the " sacred soil"
(digging in the hot sun at the* first earthworks
we threw up across the Long Bridge); in fact,
if she only knew it, there was probably more
reason, more real cause, for resentment against
me, than against the handsome, huffy stripling
two seats in front.
18 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
He was a "Yank," of course; but judging
from the smooth, ruddy cheek, and the downi-
est of downy moustaches fringing his upper lip,
had but just cut loose from the apron-strings of
his maternal West Point. Why ! he must have
been at school when we of the old Seventh
tramped down Broadway that April afternoon
to the music of " Sky-rockets," half drowned in
stentorian cheers. In fact, I began, in the few
seconds it took me to consider this, to look upon
Mars as rather an ill-used individual. Very
probably he was stationed somewhere in the
vicinity, for loud appeals had been made for
regular cavalry ever since the year previous,
when the Ku-E[lux began their devilment in the
neighborhood. Very probably he knew Judge
Summers ; visited at his plantation ; had heard
of Miss Kitty's coming, and was disposed to
show her attention. Meeting her on the train
alone and unescorted, he had done nothing more
than was right in offering his services. He had
simply acted as a gentleman, and been rebuffed.
Ah, Miss Kitty, you must, indeed, be very young,
thought I, and so asked, —
. " Have you been long in the South since the
war. Miss Carrington ?"
"I? Oh, no ! We lived in Kentucky before
the war, and when it broke out mother took me
abroad. I was a little bit of a girl then, and
was put at school in Paris, but mother died very
KITTTS CONQUEST. 19
soon afterwards, and then auntie took charge of
me. Why, I only left school last June !"
Poor little Kit ! her father had died when she
was a mere baby; her mother before the child
Lad reached her tenth year; their beautiful old
home in Kentucky had been sacked and burned
during the war ; and George, her only brother,
after fighting for his " Lost Cause" until the last
shot was fired at Appomattox, had gone abroad,
married, and settled there. Much of the large
fortune of their father still remained ; and little
Kit, now entering upon her eighteenth year,
was the ward of Judge Summers, her mother's
brother, and quite an heiress.
All this I learned, partly at the time, princi-
pally afterwards from the judge himself; but
meantime there was the rebellious little fairy at
my side with all the hatred and prejudice of ten
years ago, little dreaming how matters had
changed since the surrender of her beloved Lee,
or imagining the quantity of oil that had been
poured forth upon the troubled waters.
The " Twenty minutes to Sandbrook" liad
become involved in difficulty. Interested in my
cbat with Kitty, I had failed to notice that we
were stopping even longer than, usual at some
mysterious locality where there was even less of
any apparent reason for stopping at all. All
without was darkness. I pushed open the win-
dow, poked out my head, and took a survey.
All was silence save the hissing of the engine
way ahead, and one or two voices in excited con-
versation somewhere near the baggage-car and
by the fence at the roadside. Two lights, lan-
terns apparently, were flitting rapidly about. I
wondered at the delay, but could assign no cause
in reply to the natural question Miss Kit asked
as I drew in my head.
Mars opened his window as I closed niine,
looked out a moment, then got up, gave himself
a stretch, and stalked out; this time without
slamming the door ; a bang would have been too
demonstrative in that oppressive silence. In one
minute he came back with a quick, nervous step,
picked up a belt and holster he had left at his
KITTY'S CONQUEST. 21
seat, and, witliout a glance at us, turned sharply
back to the door again. As he disappeared, I
saw his hand working at the butt of the revolver
swung at his hip. Something was wrong. I
knew that the Ku-Klux had been up to mischief
in that vicinity, and the thought flashed upon
me that they were again at work. Looking
around, I saw that three of our four fellow-
passengers had disappeared. They were ill-
favored specimens, for I remembered noticing
them just before we stopped, and remarked that
they were talking earnestly and in low tones to-
gether at the rear end of the car. The other
passenger was an old lady, spectacled and rheu-
matic. "Without communicating my suspicions
to my little charge, I excused myself; stepped
quietly out ; swung oflT the car, and stumbled up
the track toward the lights.
A group of six or eight men was gathered at
the bagfifage-car. About the same number were
searching along the fence, all talking excitedly.
I hailed a brakeman and asked what was the
" Ku-Klux, sir ! Tried to rob the express !
There was two of them in mask jumped in with
their pistols and belted the agent over the head
and laid him out ; but afore they could get into
the safe, the baggage-master, Jim Dalton, came
in, and he yelled and went for 'em. We was
running slow up grade, and they jumped off";
22 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
Jim and the conductor after them; that's whj
we stopped and backed down.".
" Which way did they go ?" I asked.
" Took right into the bush, I reckon. That
lieutenant and another feller has gone in through
here, and Bill here says he seen three other fel«
lers light out from the back car, — the one you
was in, sir. That's enough to catch them if
they're on the trail."
" Catch them !" I exclaimed. " Those three
men in our car were of the same gang, if any-
thing, and that makes five to our four."
" Yes, by G — d!" said another of the party, a
sturdy-looking planter ; " and what's more, I
believe they've got a ranch in hereabouts and
belong to Hank Smith's gang. There ain't a
meaner set of cut-throats in all Dixie."
"Then, for heaven's sake, let's go in and hunt
up our party !" said I, really apprehensive as to
their safety. Three or four volunteered at once.
Over the fence we went, and on into the pitchy
darkness beyond. Stumbling over logs and
cracking sticks and leaves, squashing through
mud-holes and marshy ground, we plunged
ahead, until a minute or two brought us panting
into a comparatively open space, and there we
paused to listen. Up to this time I had heard
not a sound from the pursuit, and hardly knew
which way to turn. Each man held his breath
and strained his ears.
KITTY'S CONqUEST. 23
Another minute and it came, — well on to the
front, — a yell, a -shot, another shot, and then, —
" This way !" " This way !" " Here they are !"
The rest was drowned by our own rush, as we
once more plunged into the thicket and on to-
wards the shouts. All of us were armed in one
way or another, — it is rare enough that any man
goes otherwise in that section of the country, —
and to me there was a terrible excitement about
the whole affair, and my heart came bounding
up to my throat with every stride.
One or two more shots were heard, and on we
kept until, just as every man was almost breath-
less and used up, we were brought to a sudden
stop on the steep bank of a bayou that stretched
far to either side of our path, right and left, com-
pletely barring farther progress.
In blank amazement, and utterly at a loss
what to do, we were gazing stupidly in one an-
other's faces, as one after another we gathered
on the brink, when there came a sudden excla-
mation from the midst of us, — "Who's that?"
I jumped, thanks to startled nerves, and looked
A dark form came creeping slowly up the
bank, and a weak voice said, —
" Don't shoot, fellows. I'm all right, but they
nigh onto finished me, 'and they've got Hank
Smith away anyhow."
"W^e crowded around him with questions ; but
24 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
he was faint and sick and the blood was stream-
ing from a cut on his forehead. A long pull at
a flask tendered by some sympathetic soul in the
group revived him enough to tell his experi-
" Me and the lieutenant took out through the
open until we had to take to the bush. Didn't
see the conductor nor Jim anywhere, but we
gained on the Kluxers. Pretty soon we heard
'em busting through the bushes and heard 'em
holler. I got blowed, but the lieutenant, he
went ahead like as though he'd done nothing
but jump since he was a pup. I never seen such
a kangaroo. He got clean out of sight, and all
of a sudden I heard him holler ; and then came
a couple o' shots ; and pretty quick I came upon
him and another cuss just more than going for
one another in the bushes. The Yankee had
him under, though, and had winged him on the
run. "When I came up he says to me, says he,
* You look out for this man now. He can't hurt
you, but if he squirms, you put a hole in him.
I'm going on after the others.' So on he went,
and I took a look round. I'd sat down on the
cuss to make sure I had him, and my pistol at
his ear. He was lyin' right here a-glarin' up at
me, and the moment I got a good, square look
at his face, d — n my- eyes if it wasn't Hank
Smith ! Then I began to feel bully ; and just
then I heard some other fellows running up, and
KITTY'S CONQUEST. 25
thought it was our crowd, so I yelled out that I
was here and had Hank Smith all right ; and he
kinder grinned ; and they hollered ' bully' too ;
and next thing I knew one of 'em ran up and
fetched me a wipe over the head and rolled me
off down the bank, and there I've been mud-
hugging ever since.
"I was stunned, but knew enough to lie quiet,
and they got into some kind of a boat and went
paddling off across the creek; but Hank was
groaning and cussing so that I couldn't hear
nothing but him. He swore by all that was holy
that he'd have that Yank's heart's-blood before
the month was out, and I tell you the lieutenant
had better keep his eye peeled or he'll do it."
So we had lost him after all ! It was too bad !
and so said the conductor and basrffaore-master
when they rejoined us a few minutes after, bring-
ing with them the cavalryman, all three out of
breath, covered with mud and scratches, and the
latter looking very white and saying but little.
I noticed that his handkerchief was bound tightly
round his left hand, and divined the cause at
once. My respect for Mars was rising every
minute. He took a pull at the flask, looked re-
vived, and as we all turned moodily back to the
train, I asked him about his hurt. " ITothing
but a clip on the hand," said he; "but I suppose
it bled a good deal before I noticed it, and made
me a little faint after the row was over. I sus-
26 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
pected those fellows who were in our car; in
fact, had been sent up to Corinth to look after
one or two just such specimens, and was on my
w^ay back to my troop by this train. If that man
was Hank Smith, as they seem to think, I would
almost rather have lost my commission than
him." Mars's teeth came together solidly as he
gave vent to this sentiment, and his strides un-
consciously lengthened so that I had to strike an
amble to keep up.
By this time we had worked our way back
into a comparatively open space again, and could
see the dim lights of the train several hundred
yards off. The rest of our little party kept
crowding around us and offering my young hero
cordial expressions of sympathy for his hurt,
ani, in homely phrase, many a compliment on
his plucky fight. Mars took it all in a laughing
sort of way, but was evidently too disgusted
at the escape of his bird to care to talk much
about anything. Nevertheless, before we got
back to the train I gave him my name, and,
as an old friend of Judge Summers's, whom I
presumed he knew, trusted that I might meet
him frequently, and that we might become better
" Thank you, Mr. Brandon," he answered ; " I
have heard the judge speak of you, and am
sorry I did not know sooner who you were. My
name is Amory."
KITTY'S CONQUEST. 27
" Have you been long in the South ?" I asked.
"IS'o, sir; only a month or two. In fact," —
and here something like a blush stole up to the
young fellow's cheek, — "I only graduated in this
last class — '71 — from the Academy, and so have
seen but little of any kind of service."
" You're soldier all over, at any rate," thought
I, as I looked at the erect, graceful figure beside
me; and wondered — my thoughts suddenly re-
verting to Miss Kitty — how a young girl could
find it in her heart to snub such a handsome
fellow as that, Yank or no Yank.
A few strides more brought us to the train,
where Amory, whose gallantry had already been
noised abroad among the passengers, was imme-
diately surrounded by an excited group of non-
combatants, while I jumped into our car to see
how my little protegee had fared during our ab-
sence. She looked vastly relieved at my reappear-
ance, having of course learned the true state of
affairs soon after our sudden departure. I told her
briefly what had happened, taking rather a mis-
chievous delight in dilating upon Mars's achieve-
ment, and affecting not to notice the expres-
sion of mingled contempt and incredulity that
promptly appeared in her pretty face. Mars
himself did not reappear : he had gone into the
baggage-car to bathe his hand and accept the
eager attentions of one or two Africans, native
and to the manner born, who were vying with
28 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
one another in brushing off the dirt from his
snugly-fitting uniform. He was still surrounded
by a knot of passengers and train-hands when I
went forward to see how he was getting along,
which I did when the train started, but we ex-
changed a cordial grip of the hand ; and parted
with the promise of meeting at " the judge's,"
or the cavalry camp, a few miles beyond, within
the next two or three days.
The w^histle for Sandbrook was just beginning
as I rejoined Miss Kitty, and, after a vigorous life
of at least two minutes, wound up in a dismal
whine as we rolled in among the lights at the sta-
tion. Yes, there they were, ready and waiting
for us. The genial, gray-haired old judge and
Miss Pauline herself, his only and devoted daugh-
ter, in whose arms Miss Kit was rapturously en-
folded the instant she hopped from the platform.
There, too, was old Jake Biggs, whom the con-
ductor had mentioned as mademoiselle's escort
in case no one else appeared, — Jake and his boon
companion, his faithful old horse, "Bob," so
named in honor of General Lee. Jake was an
old colored servant of the Summers family, and
had followed his " young massa," Harrod Sum-
mers, all through the war; had seen him rise
from subaltern to colonel ; had nursed him
through wounds and illness; and at last when
the war was over, and Harrod, who had gone
forth with the enthusiasm and ardor of a boy,
KITTY'S CONQUEST. 29
returned to his father's home, old Jake content-
edly followed him, and settled down in one of
the few log cabins that remained on the almost
ruined estate of the Summers'. Jake was a
" free nigger" now, but the world to him was
wrapped up in old associations and " Marss'
Harrod." No such soldier ever had lived as his
" cunnel," no such statesman as the judge; no
such belle as Missy Pauline. And Jake not only
would not leave them, but in a vague and chival-
ric manner he stumbled about the premises, lord-
ing it over the young niggers and making mighty
pretence at earning an independent livelihood for
himself by " doin' chores" around the neighbor-
hood, and in hauling loads from the depot to the
different plantations within a few miles' radius
of Sandbrook. He had managed to scrape up a
dilapidated cart and harness somewhere or other,
and poor old Bob furnished, greatly to his dis-
gust, the draft and motive power. Having been
a fine and spirited saddle-horse in his younger
days. Bob had naturally rebelled at the idea of
coming down to the level of the plantation mules,
and had shown something of his former self in
the vigorous and determined remonstrance which
resulted on the occasion of Jake's first experi-
ments with the harness ; but beyond a temporary
dislocation of buckles, straps, and dashboard,
and a volley of African anathemas and " Whoa
da's" from his master, poor old Bob's rebellion
30 KITTY'S CONqUEST.
had accomplished nothing, and he had finally set-
tled down into a resigned and dreamy existence,
and went plodding about the vicinity with the
asthmatic cart at his heels, a victim to the vicis-
situdes of war.
Jake was a pet of mine, and had amused me
very much on the occasion of my first visit to the
judge's, and that's why I tell so long a rigmarole
about him. He stood there, a little aloof from
the " quality folks," grinning and bowing, and
making huge semicircular sweeps with his bat-
tered old hat, in his anxiety to do proper honor
to the judge's guests.
I had a chance to receive my especial welcome
while Miss Kit was being almost devoured by
her relatives ; and presently the baggage was all
pitched oflf; the train moved on with a part-
ing whoop ; Mars appeared at the rear door and
gave me a farewell wave of the hand ; and then,
leaving to Jake and Bob the responsible duty
of transporting the young lady's trunks, we
four — Miss Summers and Miss Kit, the judge
and I — were duly ensconced in the comfortable
old carriage, and went jolting off homcAvard.
Mr. Summers and I had much to talk about,
and finding it impossible to get a word in edge-
wise with the two young ladies, who were fond-
ling, fiuttering, cooing, and chattering on the
back seat in the most absorbed manner imag-
inable, we gradually drifted off into our ]aw
KITTY'S CONQUEST. 31
business and let them gossip away and exchange
volleys of news and caresses.
The judge was deeply interested in my account
of the adventure with the Ku-Klux, and much
concerned about Amory's hurt.
I learned from him of the desperate and law-
less character of the men who were generally
believed to be the prominent members of the
gang, and the perpetrators of the dastardly out-
rages that had been so recently inflicted both
upon the negroes and the whites. The people
were terrified beyond expression; several had
been driven from the country ; several had been-
shot down in cold blood. A defenceless girl who
had been sent down from the North as teacher
of the freedmen's school, had been dragged from
her bed at midnight and brutally whipped by
some cowardly ruffians. The sherifi", who had
arrested one of the suspected parties, was threat-
ened in an anonymous letter with death if he
failed to release his prisoner within twenty-four
hours. He called upon the citizens for assist-
ance, but none was given, for the Union people
were too few. A dozen men in mask surrounded
his house the next night; his wife heard tho
strange noise, and went to the door ; opened it,
and was shot dead in her tracks. The jail was
forced, the prisoner released and spirited off
beyond the limits of the State.
All this was going on, when, to the great joy
32 KITTY'S CONqUEST.
of peace-loving people, and undisguised anger of
the unreconstructed, a troop of United States
cavalry came suddenly to the scene. Several
arrests of known murderers and marauders wore
made ; and, until that very evening, nothing
more had been heard of the dreaded Ku-Klux.
Indeed, it was by some persons believed that
their organization was broken up, and nothing
but the positive testimony of one of their own
neighbors, the man to whom Amory had turned
over his prisoner, would induce the citizens
generally to believe that Hank Smith himself
was concerned in the attempted robbery of the
express car. The cavalry had been there just
about a month when this affair took place.
Miss Kitty's tongue had been far from idie
all the time that the judge and I had been talking
over these matters, but it was only just before
we reached our destination that I heard her
telling Miss Summers of the events of the even-
ing. The moment she mentioned that our lieu-
tenant was hurt, Miss Pauline started and ex-
" Oh, Kitty ! You don't mean it ! What will
Major Vinton say?"
" Who is Major Yinton?" said Miss Kit.
" Major Yinton is the commanding officer of
the cavalry, and Mr. Amory is one of his lieu-
tenants. Father knows them both very well,
and the major is with us almost every day," was
Miss Kit's eyes must have been as big as
saucers when she heard that. I couldn't see,
but knew it when she exclaimed, in tones almost
''• Oh, Pauline ! Do you mean to tell me that
uncle and you receive Yankee officers ! I wouldn't
have believed it !"
" You don't know him, Kitty," was Miss Sum-
34 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
mers's quiet, answer. " I believe that we owe
father's life to him, and I know that, but for him,
none of us could have remained here. He is a
thorough gentleman, and you'd like him if you
only knew him as we do. As for Mr. Amory,
he is only a boy, to be sure ; but the major says
he is a fine officer, and I know that he is a real
Miss Kit relapsed into amazed silence; the
judge added some few gentle words of reproof
for her treatment of the youngster ; and I was
smiling to myself over the whole affiiir, when we
drove up to the main entrance of their once
beautiful home. A tall, soldierly-looking man
opened the door, exchanged a word of greeting
with Miss Summers as he assisted the ladies to
alight, and then, as they scurried away up the
stairs, I was introduced to Major Vinton.
Now, though we had never met before, the
major's name was by no means unfamiliar. "We
were both New Yorkers; both had struggled
through Columbia, and had many a wrestle with
Anthon and Drisler; both had rushed to arms
in heroic style and tramped off for "Washington
at the first call for troops. But I had speedily
tramped back again ; while he remained, chose
the cavalry arm of the service, fought his way up
to the command of his regiment; and when, in
1865, his services were no longer needed, sheathed
his sabre ; put aside his well-worn regimentals ;
KITTY'S CONQUEST. 35
tried hard to interest himself in some civil pur-
suit; took a brief tour abroad, returned just as
the new organization of the regular army was
being made, and meeting one night a joyous
bevy of his old comrades, regular and volunteer,
with whom he had fought over every field from
Bull Run to Five Forks, the old fire was fanned
into a blaze, and in one week he found himself
a successful candidate for a captaincy of cavalry.
The " major" came afterwards "by brevet," and
Vinton had settled down into contentedly follow-
ing the old life, though in a less exciting time
and exalted capacity. He greeted me in a frank,
warm-hearted way; and we were in the midst
of a comparison of notes as to old college names,
when the judge interrupted us with, —
" Vinton, Mr. Brandon brings important news,
which I think you ought to know at once." So
once again the story of our little adventure was
The major listened attentively and never inter-
posed a word; but his brow darkened and his
face set when I came to Amory's wound and
Hank Smith's parting threat. The instant I
finished he turned to a servant, saying, —
" Be good enough to tell my orderly to bring
the horses round at once."
In vain the judge begged him to stay and have
supper, or at least some little refreshment. The
major said, very quietly, that he must be ofi" to
26 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
camp at once ; asked me one or two more ques-
tions in a business-like way; and the moment
tlie horses came, bade us good- night, swung into
saddle, and followed by his orderly, disappeared
at a rapid trot. The judge and I stood listening
on the portico until the hoof-beats died away,
and then returned to the blaze of the great wood-
fire in the sitting-room. The young ladies came
fluttering down-stairs. Supper was announced.
Miss Pauline looked inquiringly around as we
walked into the next room, where a bounteous
table was spread.
" Where is Major Vinton, father?"
" Gone back to camp, dear. He asked me to
present his excuses to you, but he was obliged
to leave as soon as he heard of this aifair."
I fancied that a shade of disappointment settled
on Miss Summers's face, but she merely an-
swered, " Indeed, I'm very sorry," and busied
herself with the tea and coffee.
Miss Kit looked immensely relieved, and im-
mediately became radiant; — chattered like a
little magpie, — in fact, was as charming and be-
witching as possible; but it was already late;
good-nights were soon exchanged; and, tired
out, the household went to sleep.
Next morning when we assembled in the
breakfast-room, our little heroine looked fresher,
prettier, and tinier than the day before. This
time her hair was " fixed," and that was the
KITTY'S CONQUEST. 37
only point that in my eyes was no improvement.
All day long the judge and I roamed about the
premises or pored over the cases he had on
hand. All day long the young ladies laughed,
chatted, flitted about from one room to another,
played and sang. No news came from the camp.
Late in the afternoon, when we were all stand-
ing on the portico, a solitary trooper came can-
tering up the road along which the major had
disappeared the night before. "Without knowing
why, I found my eyes turning upon Miss Sum-
mers. She was listening abstractedly to Miss
Kit's account of a visit to the Mammoth Cave,
but her eyes were fixed upon the horseman as he
rapidly neared the gate, — neared it, and, never
drawing rein or checking speed, rode stolidly
past on the road to Sandbrook depot. The wist-
ful, almost eager light faded from her soft brown
eyes; the full lip quivered one little bit; but
quickly rallying, she plunged into a blithe wordy
skirmish with her cousin about some alleged
flirtation of the summer previous.
Evening came, and with it Harrod Summers
and Mr. Pe}i;on ; both making much over Miss
Kit; both bemoaning the accident which had
prevented their meeting; and both apparently
pleased to know that " Mr. Brandon was so kind
and attentive." I had known Harrod slightly
before, as he was away much of the time of my
previous visit; but I knew him to be his father's
38 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
son, a man to be honored and respected. Of
Pej^ton, the less said the better. He was a rash,
foolhardy, and, I feared, criminally reckless boy,
a violent " reb" and unsparing hater of every
Yankee. I had heard grave stories concerning
his connection vrith some of the acts of violence
committed upon the Union-loving people in the
vicinity, and had noticed the troubled look on
the judge's face every time his name was men-
tioned. I knew that he had been arrested, and
that there was strong presumptive evidence as to
his guilt; but he had been immediately bailed
out and released. After this occurrence, the
judge had managed to persuade him to take a
trip to Havana and New Orleans ; but the mo-
ment he heard of Miss Kitty's projected visit he
came hurrying back. They were second cousins,
and had met abroad. Rumor had it that Peyton
had offered himself; that Miss Kit had a girlish
fancy for him ; that his suit promised favorably
until Aunt Mary became suddenly aware of this
nice little family arrangement, and, being a
woman of the world, and possessed of a keen
sense of what constituted the eligible and ineli-
gible in a young man, SM^ooped remorselessly
down upon the blissful pair; hustled Master Ned
into immediate exile ; and, gathering her one
chicken under the shadow of her protecting
wing, bore her in triumph away to a realm un-
infested with dangerous young men. Miss Kit
KITTY'S COSqUEST. 39
18 said to have shed bitter tears one week; sulked
the next ; pouted another ; to have made a vigor-
ous and romantic attempt at pining in all three ;
but the effort was too much for her ; and, being
wisely left to herself, it was not long before Pey-
ton and his escapades were to her matters of
Not so with him, however. To do him justice,
Peyton was probably very much in love ; and at
all events had a very correct idea of the unlimited
benefits to be obtained through the medium of
Miss Kit's solid bank account. He was no fool,
if he was a reprobate ; and was as handsome
and naughty a wolf as could be found infesting
Southern sheepfolds; and here he was, primed
and ready to renew the attack. The judge didn't
like it ; Miss Summers didn't ; nor Harrod ; nor
I; but it only took a few hours to convince us
all that our beauty had just enough feminine
mischief in her to enjoy the prospect of another
flirtation with her old flame ; and so to all but
Peyton and to her, the evening passed gloomily
enough. The judge retired to his library; Miss
Summers played soft, sad music at the piano ;
and Harrod and I smoked cigar after cigar upon
Ten o'clock came and still the pair were cooing
away in the corner ; Kitty's low, sweet, bubbling
laugh floating out through the open casement to
where we sat. Miss Summers closed her piano
40 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
abruptly ; came out to our nook on the portico ;
and, declining the oiFer of a chair, stood leaning
her hand upon her brother's shoulder.
Harrod looked fondly up at her for a moment
or two as she gazed out towards the gate ; then a
teasing a mile played about his mouth as he asked, —
" Anybody been here to-day, Paulie ?"
" No-o-o-o ! That is, nobody to speak of."
" No major, then ?"
Pauline looks squarely down into her brother's
eyes as she answers, "No major, if you refer to
Major Vinton." A little heightened color, per-
haps, but that's all. She is as brave as Harrod
and not easy to tease.
Harrod turns to me : " Do you think he has
gone after those men with his troop, Mr. Bran-
" I don't know, colonel ; he said nothing about
it, but rode off immediately. I shouldn't wonder,
though ; for the judge tells me he is over here
almost every day."
"Ye-e-es ?" (inquiringly.) " How is that,
Paulie has no reasons to allege ; probably he
wouldn't come if he didn't want to.
" True enough," Harrod suggests; "and still
less unless he knew he was welcome. He ia
awfully proud, isn't he, Paulie ?"
"Indeed, Harrod, I don't know; but he is
welcome, and any man who has rendered us the
KITTF'S CONQUEST. 41
service he has in protecting our father against
the fury of that mob on court-day, ought to be
welcome among us !" — Color rising and a per-
ceptible tremor of the hand on Harrod's shoulder.
He takes it gently and leans his cheek lovingly
upon it as he looks up at the flushing face, whose
dark eyes still gaze unflinchingly into his own.
"You are right enough, dear, and you know I
agree with you. He is a noble fellow, Brandon,
and I hope you'll meet and know him better.
Father's decision against two or three Ku-Klux
raised a terrible row here ; and as he attempted
to leave the court-house with one or two friends
the mob hooted him ; and even his long residence
among these people would not have saved him.
They call him traitor and Yankee now. "Well,
father tried to speak to them, but they wouldn't
listen. A few more friends gathered round him ;
a blow was struck ; and then the mob charged.
Shooting ensued, of course, and two of their own
men were badly wounded, while father and his
party of six barred themselves in the court-house.
Old Jake Biggs dashed out to camp, luckily
meeting Major Vinton on the way, and in five
minutes from the time the first shot was fired,
and before those howling devils could break down
the door, Vinton darted at a gallop into their
midst, — not a soul with him but his orderly, —
rode up to the door as though he were built of
cast iron, and then turned squarely and con-
42 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
fronted the whole mob. There's only one thing
on earth these people are afraid of, Brandon :
they don't care a fig for law, sheriffs, or marshals,
but they would rather see the devil than the
Federal uniform. And for ten minutes Vinton
and his one man kept that mob at bay ; and then
young Amory with half the troop came tearing
into town, and if the major hadn't checked them,
would have gone through that crowd in ten
" The mob skulked oft'; but they hate father
and the cavalry most bitterly, and would wreak
their vengeance if they dared. I was away in
Mobile at the time, and knew nothing about the
affair until next day, when my sister's telegram
came ; but the sheriff' never tires of telling how
the major rode into that crowd; and how mad
Mr. Amory was because Vinton stopped his
" No wonder you all think so much of him,
colonel," I answered. " He comes of a noble old
race, and whether as enemy or friend you can-
not fail to respect him : and I'm glad to see a
cordial feeling springing up between our sections
in this way. I would to God it were more gen-
" Ah, Brandon, it is not the soldiers, not the
men who did the fighting, who are bitter now.
Our enemies in the North are the men who sat
at home wondering why your Army of the Po-
KITTY'S CONQUEST. 43
tomac didn't move. Your enemies are those
who never felt the shock of ITorthern arms. We
would have had peace long ago could the soldiers
have heen allowed to make the terms."
And 80 we sat and talked, until the clocks
throughout the house were chiming eleven, and
then Miss Summers declared we must retire.
The corner flirtation was broken up ; Peyton and
Miss Kit exchanging a lingering and inaudible
good-night at the stairs. Harrod and I closed
and bolted doors and windows. Peyton stuck his
hands in his pockets and walked nervously up and
down the hall buried in thought until we had fin-
ished our work; and then, on receiving Colonel
Summers' somewhat cold intimation that it was
time to go to bed, wished us a sulky " pleasant
dreams," took his candle and disappeared.
Harrod waited until he was out of hearing and
then said to me, " They are all out of the way
now, Brandon, and I want to see you one mo-
ment. It is a hard thing to say of one's own
kinsman, but Peyton can't be trusted in this
matter. Here is a letter that was left for father
at the post-office in town, but I have opened and
withheld it, knowing that it would only cause
him unnecessary trouble. I'm worried about it,
and had hoped that Vinton would have come over
to-day ; we're safe enough with him and his men."
Saying this he handed me the letter. I had
seen them before ; Ku-Klux anonymous rascali-
<J4 KITTY'S CONqUEST.
ties, — a huge, coarse, brown envelope, directed
in a sprawling hand to the " Honerable Judge
Summers," and embellished in red ink with nu-
merous death's-heads, K. K.'s, and in the upper
left-hand corner a flaming scroll, on which ap-
peared in bold relief the words " Blood ! Death !
Liberty !" The whole aftair was ludicrous enough
in appearance, and, throwing it to one side, I
read the inclosure. It began with the usual
" Death to Traitors," and wound up, after one or
two incoherent " whereases" and " therefores,"
by informing the judge that if he remained in
that vicinity twenty-four hours longer " all the
damned Yankees this side of hell couldn't save
him," and intimating that the lives of the Fed-
eral officers upon whom he relied " weren't worth
their weight in mud."
Harrod and I sat for some time talking over
this elegant document, and decided that nothing
should be said until we could see Major Yinton
on the following day. The camp was six miles
away, and on the outskirts of the county-seat
where the court-house row had taken place ; and
Sandbrook was nearly as far in the opposite di-
rection. He anticipated no danger for that night ;
but such had been the reckless nature of the
Klan, that we agreed it best to be on the safe
side and to look well to our arms ; then we parted,
each to his own room.
It was a clear, starlit night and very mild,
almost warm, in fact; and having spent my
Christmas but a few days before amid the orange
groves and magnolias of Louisiana, I had pre-
pared myself for something more wintry on the
borders of Tennessee ; but up to that time my
overcoat had been insupportable.
The combined effects of half a dozen cigars
and the conversation just concluded with Harrod
Summers had banished all desire for sleep. In
fact, if I must confess it, I was nervous and ill at
ease. The room seemed close and stifling, so i
opened both window and door to secure the full
benefit of the cool night-air, and then proceeded
to make myself comfortable. First pulling off
my boots and insinuating my feet into an easy old
pair of slippers, I took the boots to the door and
deposited them noiselessly in the hall, where small
Pomp, the " general utility" man of the house-
hold, could find and black them in the morning.
A dim light was burning on a little table in the
hall, and I noticed Mr. Peyton's boots at his
door, the door next to mine, and on the same
side of the hall. We were quartered in what
4Q KITTY'S CONQUEST.
was known as the east wing, a one-storied addi-
tion to the main building, containing four sleep-
ing apartments for the use of the judge's guests;
the floor, as is generally the case in these South-
ern houses, being elevated some eight or nine
feet above the ground.
Peyton and I were the only occupants of the
wing that night; the rooms of the rest of the
household being in the main building. It oc-
curred to me, therefore, that the hall lamp was
unnecessary there ; and so I crossed over, took
it from its table, and was returning with it to
my own room, when I heard a long, shrill, dis-
tant whistle. It came from the direction of the
woods on the eastern side of the plantation, so
far away, in fact, that save in the dead of night
it probably would have failed to attract attention.
Involuntarily I stopped short in my tracks, listen-
ing; and involuntarily, too, I looked at Peyton's
door. It was closed, but the transom above it
was open, and all was darkness within. No
sound had come from his room before, and I
supposed him asleep ; and now, as if in corrob-
oration of that supposition, he began to snore;
rather a louder and more demonstrative snore
than would have been natural from so sudden a
start, I thought afterwards. Meantime, I stood
still a minute and listened. The whistle died
away, and there was no answer or repetition;
the snoring continued; I moved on into my
KITTY'S CONQUEST. 47
room ; closed and bolted the door ; put my lamp
on the bureau ; took out my revolver and care-
fully .examined it; then turned doven the light
until nothing but a mere glimmer was left;
crouched down by the open window, and looked
out. The stillness was so intense that the tick-
ing of my watch and the loud beating of my
heart seemed insupportable. Leaning out from
the casement, I could see that Peyton's window,
too, was open, and that there was a little shed of
some kind beneath it, whose roof reached up to
within about five feet of the window-sill. Gar-
den-tools were probably stored there, as I had
noticed a few spades and a wheelbarrow during
the day. Peyton was still snoring, though less
I listened for ten minutes more, and still no
sound came from the direction in which I had
heard the whistle, save the distant neigh of a
horse and the occasional barking of dogs. Yet
my nerves were upset. That whistle must have
been a signal of some kind, and, if so, what did
it portend ? At last, being unable to arrive at
any conclusion, I determined to lie down and
think it over ; and so, taking off coat and waist-
coat, and putting on a loose wrapper, I threw
myself upon the bed. It must have been after
midnight then, yet I could not sleep, and at the
same time thinking was an effort. I found my-
self listening intently for every sound, and hold-
48 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
ing my breath every time the distant bark of a
dog or the lowing of cattle was heard.
An hour passed ; nothing further happened ;
and I began to feel drowsy at last and to regard
myself as the easiest man to scare in the whole
county. Soon after, I must have fallen into a
doze; an uneasy, fitful slumber it must have
been, too; for the very next thing I knew I found
myself sitting bolt upright; every nerve strained;
and listening with beating heart to the same
signal whistle ; only this time, though low and
cautious, it was nearer; and, unless I was vastly
mistaken, came from a little clump of trees just
beyond the eastern fence. Harrod's big New-
foundland, who always slept on the porch in
front of the house, and seldom, if ever, barked
or made any disturbance at night, came tearing
around to our side, growling fiercely, and evi-
dently excited and alarmed.
Something was up, that was certain ; and im-
mediately I began to wonder what ought to be
done. The call was not repeated ; all was soon
quiet again. " Blondo" had given one or two
low, short barks ; scouted through the grounds
about the house ; and returned to the southern
front again. After one or two moments' consid-
eration he had given another, a sort of interrog-
atory bark, as though he expected a reply ; and
then, with a dissatisfied snift' at hearing noth-
ing further, slowly returned to his usual post.
KITTY- S CONQUEST. 49
Blondo's nerves were better than mine. I
thought over the matter ten minutes longer in
the most undecided manner imaginable. Harrod
had plainly intimated that he suspected Mr. Pey-
ton of complicity with the Ku-K!ux or I would
liave awakened him ; as it was, I was possessed
with the idea that he ought to know nothing of
our suspicions, nothing of the anonymous letter
(from us, at least), and in no manner or way be
admitted to confidence. Rather hard on Peyton,
to be sure ; but there was something about him I
didn't like, something besides the mere fact that
I saw he didn't like me, and What was
that ! There could be no mistake ! I plainly
saw through my open window a sudden gleam
of light among the leaves of the oak-tree on the
other side of the garden-walk. It was as though
the light had been momentarily thrown upon it
from a bull's-eye lantern and instantly with-
drawn. More than that, the light was thrown
upon it from this side. Thoroughly aroused
now, I stole noiselessly from the bed ; took my
revolver ; and, making the least possible " creak"
in turning the key, I slowly opened my door, and
on tiptoe and in stocking feet crept out into the
hall. Aly plan was to go and arouse Harrod.
Without closing my door I turned stealthily
away ; and, as a matter of course, stumbled over
one of my boots. There they were, right at the
door, just where I had left them, and visible
50 KITTY'S CONqUEST.
enough for all practical purposes in the dim
light that came from my open doorway and the
window at the end of the hall. It was clumsy
and stupid in me. I looked towards Peyton's
door, wondering if the noise, slight as it was,
had awakened him. No more snoring, at all
events. I took a step or two towards his room
to listen, looked carefully down to see that I
didn't stumble ov^r his boots too, and then
Peyton's boots were no longer there.
For a moment I could not realize it; then I
stole closer to the door, and the door that I knew
was tightly closed w4ien I came up-stairs was
now unlatched and partly open. The conviction
forced itself into my mind that my next-door
neighbor was up to some of his old devilment,
and that that signal whistle had some connection
with the mysterious disappearance of his boots.
Peeping through the partly-opened door, I could
see the bed, its coverlet undisturbed, its pillows
smooth and untouched. That was enough to
embolden me, and at the same time make me
mad. All that snoring was a counterfeit for my
benefit, was it? I opened the door and looked
in: no signs of its late occupant; Ned Peyton
Sorely puzzled what to do next, I sidled out
again; sneaked out, I might as w^ell say, for
that's the way I felt ; and leaving his door as I
KITTY'S CONQUEST. 51
fouud it, returned to my own room and took
post at the window. Curiously enough, the dis-
covery of Peyton's absence and his probable
connection with the mysterious signals without,
had had a wonderful effect in restoring me to
confidence and endowing me with a fabulous
amount of pluck and courage. The idea of
summoning Harrod was abandoned ; the thing
to be done now was to find out what my ami-
able next-door neighbor was up to ; and, if pos-
sible, to do so without letting him know that his
nice little game was detected.
A clock somewhere in the hall struck three
while I was pondering over the matter. Ten
minutes afterwards there came a stealthy step
on the garden-walk, and the figure of a man
emerged from behind an old arbor near the oak-
tree. It was Peyton, of course, although the
light was too uncertain to admit of my recog-
nizing him until he came nearer.
I crouched down lower, but kept him in view.
Cautiously and slowly Master Ned tiptoed it up
to the little tool-house under his window; swung
himself carefully up to the roof: crept on all-
fours until he reached the top ; and then, making
very little noise, clambered into his window and
disappeared from view. A moment or two after,
I heard him softly deposit his boots in the hall ;
close and bolt his door; and soon after tumble
into bed. Evidently, then, we had nothing fur-
52 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
ther to fear for that night at least ; and in fifteen
minutes I was sound asleep.
At breakfast the next morning the household
generally put in a late appearance. Peyton es-
tablished himself at Miss Kitty's side and mo-
nopolized her in the most lover-like manner.
Immediately afterwards the pair sallied forth for
a walk. Miss Summers looked very anxiously
after them until they disappeared in the shrub-
bery, and then turned to Harrod with an appeal-
ing look in her eyes.
"I don't know what to do, Harrod. I didn't
imagine the possibility of his coming back here
when we invited Kitty."
" Don't worry about it, Pauline. Mr. Bran-
don and I are going to drive over to the cavalry
camp this morning, and this afternoon PU have
a talk with l^ed. How soon can you get through
your talk with father?" he suddenly asked, turn-
ing to me.
" Twenty minutes at most will be long enough,'*
I answered ; so he sent off to the stable to order
The judge and I strolled slowly around the
house, planning the course to be pursued in the
prosecution of the men who had been arrested
under the " enforcement act." As we sauntered
along the garden-walk on the eastern side, I nat-
urally glanced up at my window and Peyton's.
A coarse brown envelope was lying right at the
KITTY'S CONqUEST. 53
door of the little tool-house, the very place where
he had clambered to the roof the night before.
*' We lawyers are curious," and, without inter-
rupting the judge's conversation, I " obliqued"
over to the left; picked up the envelope; dropped
it carelessly into my pocket; and went on talk-
ing without having attracted the judge's atten-
tion to the movement.
After the judge had returned to his study, and
hefore Harrod was ready, I had an opportunity
of investigating this precious document. It only
needed a glance to assure me that it was just
such another envelope as the one which inclosed
the Ku-Klux letter to the judge that Harrod had
shown me, and that fact was sufficient to remove
any scruples I might have had as to reading its
contents. The envelope bore no mark or address.
The inclosure was as follows :
" Captain Peyton :
" Dear Sir, — The Yankee major, with forty
of his men, went off in a hurry late last night,
leaving the lieutenant and about ten men in
camp. They're after Hank and the crowd, but
we got notice in time, broke up the ranch,
and scattered. Hank's wound is pretty rough ;
he played a d — d fool trick in trying to get
that express money, and the boys all think
he'd been drinking again. Three of us took
him over the Big Bear in Scantwell's boat, and
54 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
on up to Chickasaw. He sent me back from
there to see you and tell you to watch out for
every chance to get word to him. He'll be at
Eustice's, across the Tennessee, until his arm is
well ; and then he's coming back to get square
with the Yank who shot him. The lieutenant
has got an infernal bad cut on the left hand, and
can't do nothing for the next week. Look out
for signal any night about two o'clock. Barn this.
" Yours respectfully,
Here was a pretty piece of villainy. I thought
earnestly whether to show it immediately to
Harrod and make a full exposS of Peyton's com-
plicity with the aftair ; but, before I could decide,
the carriage came ; and with the driver listening
to every word that was said, it was out of the
question. It M^as scandalous enough as it stood
without letting the servants know of it. We
talked a good deal about their general perform-
ances, but in no way alluded to the latest devel-
opments of the Klan as we drove rapidly along.
Neither expected to find Major Vinton there at
camp; but I had reason to know that Amory
would be on hand, and had determined to give
him immediate information as to the whereabouts
of Smith that he might send out a party to secure
Sure enough, only one or two soldiers were to
KITTY'S CONQUEST. 55
be seen when we drove up, but a corporal took
as to Amory's tent. He sprang up from the
little camp-bed in which he was lounging and
reading; gave us a cordial welcome; and, in
reply to our questions, stated that the major had
gone out with three days' rations and nearly all
the men, hoping to hunt up and capture the
gang. A United States marshal was with him,
who felt certain that he could guide him to the
very point on the bayou where the fight had
taken place. He had started about three o'clock
on the previous morning, just as soon as rations
could be cooked, and was determined to hunt
them to their holes.
" I expect him back every hour, and am dis-
gusted enough at being ordered to stay behind ;
but he and the doctor both forbade my going,
so here I am playing the invalid." His arm was
still in a sling and the hand closely bound.
We sat and chatted for some twenty minutes.
Amory inquired after " the young ladies" very
calmly; made no allusion to Miss Kitty's snub;
accounted for his non-appearance the day before
by saying that the doctor had insisted on his
remaining quiet in his tent ; and so neither Har-
rod nor I saw fit to make any apology for our
troublesome little heroine. She was worrying
all of us now, — innocently enough perhaps, but
sorely for all that.
Harrod turned the subject to Hank Smith ;
56 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
and, finding that Amory had not heard of his
threat as related by tlie man whom his friends
had " fetched a wipe over the head," repeated it
to him, and warned him to be on his guard.
Mars took it coolly enough ; expressed his readi-
ness to welcome Hank and his adherents to
hospitable graves; and, except that his teeth
came as solidly together as they had when allud-
ing to the ruffian's escape two nights previous,
displayed no symptoms of the slightest emotion
at the prospect of losing a quart or two of " heart's-
blood" within the month.
Presently Harrod drove off to the village to
make some necessary purchases, promising to
return for me within an hour. Then I lost not
a moment in giving Marg my information about
Hank Smith; where he was to be found, etc.,
but without mentioning Peyton's connection
with the affair or stating how the news came into
my possession. He asked, of course, but I gave
a good reason for declining to name the person
who had volunteered the news, at the same time
assuring him of my belief in its truth.
Mars was all ablaze in a minute. Chickasaw
was at least twelve miles away and to the north.
Vinton's plan, and the marshal's, was to go south-
west, should they find the ranch abandoned, and
search a number of suspected points in Tisho-
mingo and Prentiss Counties. All the gang by
this time knew that there was a hunt going on,
Kirrys coaquest. 57
and, at the cry of " Yanks coming," had scat-
tered in every direction. Smith thought himself
safe across the Tennessee, and would probably
have only one or two men with him. Amory was
fairly excited this time anyhow, and in ten min-
utes had made up his mind ; gave his orders to
a non-commissioned officer, wrote a letter to
Major Vinton, with instructions to deliver it
immediately upon the return of the troop to
camp, and before Harrod Summers' return, had
vaulted lightly into saddle, waved me a laugh-
ing good-by, and trotted oii" at the head of a little
squad of five dragoons, — all the men he could
possibly take. I watched them till they disap-
peared from view on the road to the Tennessee
and then sat me down to wait for Harrod.
The corporal who had shown us to Amory's
tent was on " sick-report" he said, with chills
and fever. He, with three or four others, re-
mained in charge of camp, and I amused myself
listening to their talk about their officers and the
Ku-Klux. An old darky on a mule came in to
sell chickens, and after him, a seedy-looking
fellow on a shaggy pony, — he " didn't want
nothing in particular, unless it was to know
when the captaiu'd be back."
The corporal was non-committal, — didn't know.
The seedy party shifted around in his saddle,
and, after profuse expectoration, " reckoned that
the lieutenant warn't much hurt nohow."
58 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
" Why so ?" says the corporal.
" 'Cause he's off so quick again."
" That don't prove anything," says the dragoon.
*' Whar's he gone to ?" says Seedy.
" Ain't gone far, I reckon ; didn't take no ra-
tions, did he?"
" Don't know."
" I kind of wondered why he took the north
road fur, if he wanted to catch the captain, 'cause
I knew he was out towards Guntown."
'''■How did you know ?"
" Well, I heard so, that's all"
The corporal looks steadily at Seedy, and is
apparently suspicious. Seedy turns his quid over
with his tongue and looks all around. He's
a had hand at extracting information, at all events.
At la^t he makes another venture.
*' Wish I knew how far up the north road the
lieutr^nant went. I've got some business up to-
wards the Tennessee. I belong to a missionary
society hereabouts, and yet I don't like to take
that long ride alone."
I hear the corporal mutter a rather unflatter-
ing comment on that statement; and it occurs
to me that there is more of the odor of bad
whiskey than sanctity about the member of
the missionary society. He reminds me of
Mr. Stiggins ; and Mr. Stiggins makes one more
KITTYS CONQUEST. 59
" "WTiar am I most like to catch the boys by
" Don't know."
The member looks incredulous and indignant;
and after a long survey of every object in range
about the camp, turns his dejected steed slowly
around and shambles oiF, with the parting shot, —
" Reckon you never did know nothin', did
you ?" To which the corporal responds, —
"No; and if I did, I wouldn't tell you,
Stiggins strikes a canter on reaching the main
road, and disappears on the trail of the cavalry.
Presently Harrod returns, greatly surprised at
Amory's sudden expedition, and curious as to
the source from which he derives his information.
I hard]}' know what to say, but finally get out of
it by the explanation that it was all " confiden-
tial," and that I could say nothing on the subject
until his return.
On the drive home we come suddenly upon the
troop itself, looking tired and dusty, but return-
ing from the two days' trip to Tishomingo par-
tially successful, and with six rough-looking
Bpecimehs of " corn-crackers" footing it along
between the horsemen. They found no trace of
Smith, the marshal tells us, as the men go filing
by ; but, after all, their luck has been good, and
six of the w^orst characters are now securely
(jO KITTY'S CONQUEST.
The major, he tells us, had stopped at Judge
Summers's, and expected to find us there ; so we
whip up and hurry on.
A brisk drive brings us to the plantation in a
very few minutes. As we rattle up to the door-
way, Harrod catches sight of Mr. Peyton loung-
ing on the portico by the open w^indow of the
parlor, for once in his life paying little or no at-
tention to Miss Kitty, who is seated on the old
wicker-work sofa, some distance from him, pout-
ing and puzzled.
Harrod warns me to say not a word of Lieu-
tenant Amory's expedition until Peyton is out of
the way. Old Jake detains him a moment about
" dis yer Hicks's mule done broke into the
gyarden las' night," and I move on into the house.
In the parlor are the judge. Major Yinton, and
Pauline ; the first listening, the second narrating,
the third as complete a contrast to Miss Kit as
can be imagined. Yinton rises and greets me.
He looks dusty, tanned, and travel-stained, but
more soldierly than ever in his dark-blue jacket
and heavy boots. After Harrod's entrance he
resumes his story, — he was telling of the capture
of the Ku-Klux, — talking frankly and as though
none but friends were near. Harrod shifts un-
easily in his chair and glances nervously towards
the window. Peyton is invisible, but, beyond
doubt, there, and a listener.
It is vain to attempt to warn the major; by
KITTY'S CONQUEST. 61
this time Peyton knows the whole story, knows
who had aided the troops in their search, knows
just how the evidence was procured which led to
the arrest of the six victims, and doubtless his
black-list is swelled by the addition of several
names destined to become the recipients of Ku-
Lunch is announced, and we all sit down at
the table, Peyton and Kit coming in from the
porch and endeavoring to ignore Major Vinton,
a circumstance which apparently renders him no
uneasiness whatever. He talks constantly with
Pauline, and never gives a glance at the pair.
Harrod and I are nervous. I watch Peyton
closely, and it requires no penetration to see that
not a word of Vinton's is lost on him.
Suddenly there comes the clatter of hoofs on
the ground without ; the clank of a cavalry sabre,
and, a moment after, the ring of spurred heels
along the hall. A servant announces the major's
orderly; and, begging the major not to rise, the
judge directs that the trooper be shown in.
Just as I thought, it is Amory's letter.
" Sergeant Malone said that it was to be given
the major directly he returned. Them was the
loot'nant's orders, and he told me to ride right
over with it, sir," says the orderly. And, apolo-
gizing to Miss Summers, the major opens it and
begins to read.
I glance at Harrod; his eyes are fixed on
62 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
Peyton ; Peyton's furtively watching Vinton.
Another minute and Vinton has risen to his
feet ; an eager, flashing light in his eyes, but his
voice steady and calm as ever, as he says, —
" Gallop back. Tell Sergeant Malone to send
me a dozen men, armed and mounted at once,
and you bring my other horse." Away goes the
orderly, and then in reply to the wistful look of
inquiry in Pauline's eyes, the major says, —
" I must be off" again. Amory has obtained
information as to the w^hereabouts of Smith and
some of his gang, and has started after them,
but with only five men, too few to cope with such
desperadoes. He has four hours the start of me
now, and 'twill be nearly five before my men can
get here; but I must reach him before he attempts
to recross the Tennessee."
I cannot be mistaken in Peyton's start of
astonishment. Instantly his face turns pale ;
the secret is out, his complicity perhaps detected.
Lunch is forgotten, and we all rise and leave the
table. Harrod manages to whisper a caution to
the major to say nothing more while Peyton is
near, whereat Vinton looks vacant and aghast.
Five minutes more and Peyton and Kitty are
missed, — gone out for a walk, the servant says.
Then Harrod explains, and Vinton looks as
though biting his own tongue ofi^" close to the
roots would be the most congenial and exhil-
arating recreation that could be suggested. He
KITTY'S COXqUEST. g3
is annoyed beyond expression, but it is too late
now. Peyton is off; no one knows which way,
and in half an hour all the real or supposable
Ku-Klux in the county will know of the danger
that threatens them ; know, too, how small a
force young Amory has taken with him in his
hurried raid to the Tennessee ; and, ten to one,
if he succeed in capturing Smith, he cannot
attempt to recross the river without having to
light his way through.
All this is canvassed in the anxious council
that ensues. No time is to be lost; he must be
reinforced at once. Harrod orders out his two
horses ; old Jake is hastily summoned and told
to bring up his charger, " Bob" ; and while the
horses are being saddled, Vinton decides on his
plan. He and Harrod are to gallop on after
Amory; old Jake to ride down to meet the
troopers, with orders to make all speed possible
to the Tennessee. I am possessed with an im-
mediate thirst for human gore, and want to go
with the major; but there is no other horse, and
I couldn't ride without shaking myself to pieces
and capsizing every hundred yards or so if there
were. To me, therefore, is assigned the cheerful
duty of remaining at the plantation and watching
Peyton's movements should he return.
Just before the horses are brought around,
Kitty comes back, alone. She looks white and
scared, and hurries up the steps as though anx-
64 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
ious to avoid us, but Harrod intercepts and leads
her to one side. She grows paler as he questions
and talks to her ; and suddenly hursts into tears,
and rushes past him into the house.
" He's gone, by heaven !" says Harrod, as he
rejoins us. " Kitty says he took the overseer's
horse and galloped off towards the north."
" Here, Jake," says Vinton, " waste no time
now ; ride as though the devil chased you. Tell
Sergeant Malone to follow as fast as he can.
Don't spare the horses !"
Jake makes a spring; lights on his stomach
on old " Bob's" withers ; swings himself round ;
and barely waiting to get his seat, makes vigor-
ous play with both heels on his pet's astonished
ribs, and with a "Yoop, da!" our Ethiopian
aide-de-camp clatters away. Then comes a hur-
ried and anxious leave-taking with Pauline and
the judge, and in another minute our two sol-
diers trot out to the road. We watch the gallant
forms till the riders disappear, and then turn
silently away. Pauline's eyes are dim with tears,
and she seeks her own room.
That was a wretched afternoon and evening.
Kitty never appeared. Pauline came down to
tea and tried to entertain me during the long
hours that dragged slowly away ; but we started
at every sound, and when midnight came she re-
tired altogether. We had hoped for news, but
none reached us.
KITTY'S CONQUEST. 65
The judge dozed fitfully in his easy-chair, but
I was too much excited to feel the least drowsi-
ness; so, cigar in mouth, I strolled out to the
gate and gazed longingly up the dim, shadowy
vista through the woods where lay the road to
the Tennessee along which our first news, good
or bad, must come.
Two o'clock came first, and I was then read-
ing, in a distracted style, in the library. The
clocks had barely ceased striking when my eager
ears caught the sound of hoof-beats rapidly
nearing us. Down went the book; and in a
minute I was at the gate, just in time to meet
the horseman, a corporal of Vinton's troop.
" We've got the Ku-Klux all right, sir," he
says, as he reins in his jaded steed, " but we
had to fight half the count)\ The lieutenant's
wounded, and so is Monahan, one of the men,
sir. They are bringing them here, and I'm to
ride right on for the doctor."
Off" he goes before I can ask more. Pauline
meets me as I return to the hall. She is pale as
death and her whole frame shakes as she says,
" Tell me everything, Mr. Brandon."
" Harrod and Vinton are safe ; Amory and
one of his men are hurt, and they are bringing
them here," I answer.
She saw by my face that there had been a
fight. What her woman's heart craved, was to
know that those she loved were safe, unhurt,
(36 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
and returning to her. Then the next minute
she is all sympathy, all tenderness, even, for our
boy sabreur; and she occupies herself with prep-
arations for his reception and nursing.
"While we are talking, who should come noise-
lessly down the stairs but Kitty, dressed in a
loose blue wrapper ; her lovely hair falling down
her back and thrown from her temples and fore-
head, her eyes red with weeping. Pauline's
heart is full, and the sight of this sorrowing
little object is too much for her; she opens her
arms and takes her to her heart, and Kitty's sobs
break out afresh.
" I knoio that something has happened," she
cries; "cfo tell me. You all think I care for Ned
Peyton, but I don't — I donH ! And he was fright-
ful to-day, and — and — if he did what he said he
was going to do I'll never speak to him again."
Pauline tries to comfort and soothe her, but I
want to know what Peyton's threat was; and
have the unblushing hard-heartedness to ask.
" He declared that he would raise forty men
and kill every man Lieutenant Amory had with
him. He frightened me so that I did not know
what to do. Oh, Paulie, what has happened ?"
"We don't know yet, Kitty. Harrod is bring-
ing Mr. Amory here. He was wounded, and
there has been a fight, but we hope it was not
Poor little Kit starts back in horror, and then
KITTY'S CONQUEST. 67
sobs harder than ever. It is impossible to com-
fort the child. She is possessed with the idea
that in some way or other she has been instru-
mental in bringing the affair about. She is ter-
rified at learning the part Peyton has played,
and bitterly reproaches herself for the uneasiness
her flirtation had caused us all. She is the most
abject little penitent I ever saw, and her distress
is something overpowering to a susceptible old
bachelor. In the course of an hour she is per-
suaded to return to her room, but not without
the interchange of multitudinous embraces and
kisses, — Pauline, of course, being the party of
the second part.
It is nearly daybreak when Harrod arrives,
convoying a rusty old carriage which he has ob-
tained somewhere along the Tennessee; and from
this our young soldier is tenderly lifted by two
of his troop and carried to the room opposite
mine in the wing. Poor fellow ! it is hard to
recognize in the pallid, blood-stained, senseless
form the gallant young officer of the night on
While the doctor was examining his hurts and
dressing the wounds, Harrod gave me a hurried
account of what had happened. Amory had
reached the Tennessee about two in the after-
noon, and, leaving his horses on the south bank
in charge of one man, crossed quickly and com-
pletely took " Eustice's" with its precious garri-
68 KITTF'S CONQUEST.
son of desperadoes by surprise. Luckily, Smith
had but two of his ^^ang with him. They hardly
had time to think of resistance. Hank was found
stretched out in bed and swearing cheerfully
over the unexpected turn of aifairs, but had
sense enouarh to acknowlede^e that his Yankee
adversary " had the drop on him," and surren-
dered at discretion. Securing him and his two
chums, but leaving the other inmates of " Eus-
tice's" unmolested, Amory in less than an hour
and a half landed his party once more on the
south bank, and, after procuring food for his
men and horses and resting another hour, started
on the back-track about five in the evening;
moving slowly, as his horses were jaded and his
three prisoners had to foot it.
Their road was bordered by thick woods, and
ran through an almost uninhabited tract. Hank
was suffering apparently a great deal of pain
from the fever of his wound, and, after sullenly
plodding along about a mile, began showing
signs of great distress. He was offered a horse,
but declared that riding would hurt him just as
much, and finally stopped short, swearing that
"Ef you un's expects to git me to yer d — d camp
this yer night you've got to do a heap of toting."
Finding that he was really weak and sick, Amory
was too soft-hearted to insist; and so a brief halt
was ordered while one of the men went in search
of a farm-wagon. Just at night-fall a horseman
KITTY'S COXqUEST. (\Q
came cantering rapidly up the road, at sight of
whom the prisoners exchanged quick, eager
glances of intelligence, and attempted to spring
to their feet and attract his attention. 'No sooner,
however, had he espied the partv than he stopped
3hort; reined his horse about; and, digging spur
into him, disappeared at a gallop into the shad-
ows of the forest.
The whole thing was so sudden that no pur-
suit was made. Ten minutes after, there came
the distant sound of a shrill, prolonged whistle,
and Amor}^ thoroughly aroused, ordered a mount
and immediate start.
Strange to say, Hank moved on with great
alacrity. No man ever rose from so brief a rest
80 thoroughly invigorated. Once or twice more
the same whistle was heard, but nothing could
be seen, as darkness had set in.
Silently and anxiously the little party moved
on, Amory riding several yards in advance, peer-
ing cautiously about and listening eagerly to
every sound. All of a sudden from thick dark-
ness came blinding flashes, — the ringing reports
of musketry and pistols, and the regular old-time
Amory reeled. His horse reared wildly, and
then, with a snort of terror, plunged down the
road ; his rider dragging over his side.
Of the next five minutes, none of the men could
give a collected account. The sergeant had done
70 KITTY'S CONqUEST.
nis duty well, however; had kept his men to-
gether; and, what with superior discipline and
the rapid fire from their magazine carbines, his
little party proved too plucky for their assailants.
There was a sound of scrambling and scattering
among the shrubbery and of clambering over the
rail-fence by the roadside. The fire suddenly
ceased and the troopers were masters of the situ-
ation. During the excitement, one of the pris-
oners had managed to crawl off; while Hank and
the other specimen adopted the tactics of throwing
themselves fiat on their faces. The soldiers were
eager to pursue and capture some of the band ;
but the sergeant was wary and cautious; kept
them on the defensive ; secured his two remain-
ing prisoners; and was just about ordering a
search for their lieutenant, when the well-known
and welcome voice of the major was heard down
the road, and in a moment he and Harrod dashed
up to the spot. Then came eager inquiries and
the search for Amory ; and presently a cry from
one of the men announced that he was found.
Hurrying to the spot, they discovered him, bleed-
ing, bruised, and senseless, by the roadside; one
deep gash was cut on his forehead, from which
the blood was oozing rapidly ; a bullet-hole and
a little red streak in the shoulder of his jacket
told where one at least of the ambuscading vil-
lains had made his mark; while the moan of
pain that followed when they strove tenderly to
KITTY'S CONQUEST. 71
raise him from the ground proved that our boy
was suffering from still other injuries; but for
all that, thank God ! alive, perhaps safe.
It was long before the men could find a farm-
house ; longer still before they came in with the
lumbering old rattletrap of a carriage which their
major had directed them to secure at any cost;
and all this time poor Amory lay with his head
on Vinton's lap, utterly unconscious of the lat-
ter's grief, of his almost womanly tenderness;
but at last they were able to lift him into the
improvised ambulance ; and while the troopers,
now reinforced by the small party which had
followed Vinton, took charge of the prisoners,
with orders to turn them over to the marshal at
Sandbrook, the others drove carefully and slowly
homewards, and so once more Mars was in our
midst, — now our pet and hero.
All night long we watched him. All next day
he tossed in feverish delirium ; and when night
came, Vinton and Pauline were bending over
him striving to soothe and calm the boy in his
restless pain. He spoke but little. Muttered
words, half-broken sentences, incoherent all of
them, were the only things we could win from
him. He knew none of us ; though he appeared
to recognize Vinton's voice better than any. At
last, late in the evening, when the doctor had
forced an anodyne between his set teeth, Amo-
ry 's muscles relaxed, he threw his unwounded
72 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
arm wearily over his face and murmured, " I
give up, — I'm whipped."
Vinton could hardly help smiling. " He
thinks himself in one of his old cadet fights,"
said he. " Those fellows at West Point settle
all difficulties with their fists, and this youngster
was eternally in some row or other; he'd fight
the biggest man in the corps on the slightest
We were all wearied with watching, and it
was a glad sight when our pugilistic patient
dropped oft' into a deep sleep. Vinton had to
go back to camp to look after his men. Harrod
was tired out and had sought his room. I had
agreed to sit by Amory's bedside until midnight,
as they had expelled me from the sick-room and
made me sleep all morning " on account of age."
Pauline was just giving a smoothing touch to
the pillows when the door softly opened and
who should come in but Kitty.
Yes, Kitty, our rampant little rebel Kit, who
but a few days before had seen fit to snub our
wounded boy simply because he was a " Yank"
and wore the uniform which Uncle Sam has
condemned his men-at-arms to suffer in. But
how changed was Kitty now ! Once or twice
during the day she had stolen to the door or
waylaid Pauline in the halls, always with a
white, tear-stained, anxious face and a wistful
inquiry as to how Mr. Amory was doing ; then
KITTYS CONQUEST. 73
..he would creep lonely and homesick back tc
her room ; probably have a good long cry ; and
then down-stairs again for still another and later
She had smoothed back her soft golden hair
aow; bathed away all but a few traces of the
tears that had flown so copiously during the last
thirty-six hours ; and in her simple yet daintily-
fitting dress, looked more womanly, more gentle
and attractive, than I had ever seen her.
Walking quietly up to us, she put her little
white hand on Pauline's shoulder, saying, —
" You go now, Paulie ; it's my turn. You've
all been working here and must be tired and
sleepy. I'm going to play nurse now." And
for a minute the corners of the pretty mouth
twitch, and the soft gray eyes fill, as though our
little heroine were again on the verge of a re-
lapse into lamentation. Pauline's arm is round
her in an instant, and she draws her close to her
bosom as she says, —
"It is just like you, darling; I knew you would
want to come." And then follows the invariable
exchange of caresses so indispensable among
tender-hearted young ladies on such occasions.
Not that I disapprove of it. Oh, no ! Only one
can hardly expect to be " counted out" from all
participation in such ceremonies and yet stand
by and look on with unmoved and unenvying
74 KITTY'S CONqUEST.
Ten minutes more and Pauline has gone, with
a good-night to both. The judge comes in and
bends with almost fatherly interest over the
sleeping boj ; and as Kitty seats herself quietly
by the bedside, goes round and kisses her, say-
ing, " You are more like your dear mother to-
night than I ever saw you."
Kit looks up in his face without a word, but
in affection that is eloquent in itself. Then her
little hand busies itself about the bandage on
Amory's forehead, and my occupation is gone.
Leaving her to attend to that, the judge and 1
seat ourselves at the open fireplace, waking and
The doctor pronounced him better when he
came next morning to dress the wounds. Mars
spent most of the time in sleeping. Never did
patient meet with care and attention more ten-
der, more constant. Either Pauline or Kit was
at his bedside. The old judge would come in
with every hour or so. Vinton galloped over
from camp and spent the afternoon ; and as for
myself, I was becoming vastly interested in help-
ing Kitty, when, as bad luck would have it, old
Jake brought me what he termed a " tallygraff"
when he came back from Sandbrook late at
evening with the mail; and the tallygraff sent
me hurrying back to Holly Springs by first train
the following day.
It was with no satisfaction whatever that I
KITTY'S CONQUEST. 75
bade tbem all adieu ; though my heart lightened
up wheu the doctor reported our " sub" improv-
ing. "We all thought he recognized Vinton when
the latter arrived in the morning to drive over
We all thought, too, that a week at the utmost
would bring me back with them in time to resume
my functions as assistant nurse ; but it was fully
a month before my business could be completed,
and by that time no further occasion existed for
" We've had quite a little series of adventures,
major," said I, as we whirled along towards the
station, "and for one, I shouldn't be surprised
if a spice of romance were to be thrown in ; a
love-affair, in fact. What do you think ?"
Vinton knocked the ashes off his cigar on the
dash-board; replaced his cigar between his teeth
with great deliberation ; smiled very quietly, not
to say suggestively, to himself; gave a tug or two
at his moustache, and then said, —
" Amory and Miss Kit you mean. Well, — I
can't say. To tell the truth, I've been thinking
for some time past that he has left his heart up
North somewhere, — some old West Point affair,
you know; writes long letters every now and
then, and won't let me see the address ; drops
them in the postal-car himself, instead of sending
them by the company mail ; gets a dainty missive
now and then, lady's handwriting, pretty mono-
/6 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
gram; and bluslies, too, when I ' devil' him about
Syracuse ; they are postmarked from there. May
not amount to much, of course. These young-
sters get into that sentimental sort of vein at the
Academy and seem to think it the correct thing
to be spoony over somebody all the time."
That struck me as being a long speech for
Vinton, a man of few words ordinarily. It oc-
curred to me, too, that he was suspicious of hi?
own affair's being the one to which I referred,
and wanted to head me off. Oh, the perversity
of human nature ! That made me press the point
and return to the subject. (Pauline afterwards
said it was the meanest thing I ever did in my
life. How little she knew me !)
"Don't dash my expectations in that way,
Vinton. K Amory and Miss Kit don't carry out
my plan and fall in love, I'll have to fall back
upon you and Miss Pauline, you know ; and just
imagine how the judge and Harrod would feel at
having to give her up. Besides, old fellow, you
and I are cut out for confirmed old bachelors.
Can't expect a young and attractive girl like her,
who could marry anybody, to settle down to an
unsettled and nomadic existence in the army;
that's altogether too much for so little, don't you
" Job's comforters" would have proven a dead
failure in comparison with that effort. It was
mean, but there was something exhilarating
KITTY'S CONQUEST. , 77
about it for all that. What man, raised in a
large family of sisters, doesn't grow up as I was
raised, — a tease ?
Vinton is too old a campaigner, however, and
sees my game ; grins expressively, and behaves
with commendable nonchalance.
" I'll put the matter in train when I get back,
Brandon, and try and arrange it between the
young people to your satisfaction, so that you
won't have to fall back on anything so utterly
problematical as the other suggestion." That
was all he had to say on the subject.
We reached Sandbrook ; the train came ; and
in a moment more I was standing on the rear
platform watching the tall, stalwart, soldierly
form that waved me good-by, growing dim and
dimmer in the distance.
That night found me at Holly Springs and in
consultation with the United States marshal and
the commanding officer of the little garrison of
infantrymen. To the care of the last named, our
captured Ku-Klux had been turned over, together
with a few more of their fraternity, recent ac-
quisitions, one of whom, the marshal informed
me, was badly wounded and in hospital. He
had been arrested the day after the ambuscade
at a farm-house within five miles of the spot, and
duly forwarded to join his Han at their new and
much anathematized rendezvous.
On my expressing a desire to see him, the
78 . KITTY'S CONQUEST.
captain obligingly conducted me into the neat
little hospital-tent, only a few steps from his own ;
and there, stretched out at full length, with a
bandaged shoulder and a woe-begone counte-
nance, was my missionary friend — Stiggins.
It was easy enough to conjecture how he came
by his wound, though his own statement of the
occurrence had surrounded him with a halo of
martyrdom up to the time of my arrival. Stig-
gins had stoutly maintained that the Ku-Klux
had shot him; that he was a law-abiding man,
and that he hadn't seen a blue-coated soldier
since the war. But when Stiggins caught sight
of me he looked very much as though he had
been lying, and in all human probability he had.
I said nothing to the officers on the subject
until afterwards ; when, in examining the articles
which were in his possession at the time of his
arrest, I came across a letter written in a hand I
knew well enough, appointing a meeting with
one J. Bostwick, and signed " Peyton." It was
dated the night Harrod and Master ITed arrived
at the plantation.
Stiggins swore he didn't know Peyton ; never
had seen him ; " that note didn't belong to him
nohow," and lied with a volubility and earnest-
ness that would have done credit to a Jew in a
clothing-store. But no information as to Pey-
ton's whereabouts could be extracted from him
or his unwounded confederates ; nor could they
KITTY'S CONQUEST. 79
be induced to give any clue which might lead to
his implication. Whatever they were otherwise,
they were game to the backbone ; and stood by
one another throughout their captivity and the
trial which followed.
Hank Smith we found domiciled in the prison
room where the gang were cooped up. He car-
ried his arm in a sling, and a bed had been pro-
vided for his especial accommodation. He was
surly and defiant, but accepted a piece of plug
tobacco with much avidity, and was kind enough
to say that " 'Twould be a derned sight better if
you handed over a bottle of whiskey with it,"
which sentiment was unanimously concurred in
by the assembled delegates, but vetoed by the
Two weeks passed away, and still was I de-
tained. Then came a summons to Jackson, where
the State Legislature was in session. I had writ-
ten to the judge and to Vinton. The former had
been called South on business, but while at
Jackson the latter's reply reached me, — a long,
and for him, gossipy letter.
Amory was rapidly recovering, and the mo-
ment he was well enough to be moved — in fact,
as soon as he had his ideas about him — had in-
sisted on being carried to camp. It was in vaiu
that Harrod, Pauline, and Yinton had protested ;
go he would. No persuasions could induce him
to remain where he was a burden and a care to
80 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
them. Kitty had taken no part in the discussion,
and had been hut little in the sick-room after he
had recognized her; but the poor child was pos-
sessed with the idea that he was determined to
go simply on her account, and was very miserable
in consequence. As a last resort, Pauline, " for
whom he has a warm affection," had communi-
cated this fact to her intractable patient, and his
pale face had flushed up for an instant and he
was at a loss what to say, but finally protested
that it had nothing to do with his determination.
That evening he asked to see her, and, in an em-
barrassed but earnest way, thanked her for nurs-
ing him so kindly and carefully. " I'll never
forget how good you — you all were to me. Miss
Carrington." And from that time until the am-
bulance came for him, two days after, whenever
she chanced to come to the room he was very
gentle, and in his whole manner seemed anxious
to show her that not an atom of resentment or
annoyance remained. " Somehow or other there's
something wrong," Vinton wrote. " I can't get
her to look or talk like her old self; she won't
cheer up, and whenever she is in the room both
of them are nervous and embarrassed, and though
Miss Summers and I have striven to get them
into conversation when the doctor would let him
talk, it's of no use." Oh, the subtlety of femi-
nine influence ! Fancy Vinton in the role of
match-maker ! And so Amory was back again
KITTrS CONQUEST. 81
among his men, rapidly improving, but still, as
Vinton said, " something was wrong."
Nothing had been heard from or of Peyton
except an order for his trunk and personal efi'ects,
brought to the colonel by a total stranger. It
was conjectured, however, that the judge had
gone to Mobile during his trip, and that his
troublesome kinsman was to be shipped off to
climes where Ku-Klux were unknown, and where
his propensities for mischief would have no field
for operation. No further complaints of outrages
or disorders ; everything was quiet and peaceful,
and men and horses were having a good rest.
Oke bright, beautiful evening late in February,
it was my good fortune to find myself once more
within " twenty minutes of Sandbrook" ; this
time on no hurried visit, but with the deliberate
intention of accepting the cordial invitation of
the judge and Harrod to spend a month with
them. I was to make their home my headquar-
ters while attending to the limited amount of law
business that called me to that vicinity. I had
heard several times from the plantation since
Vinton's letter, and the very last news I had re-
ceived was penned by Miss Pauline's own fail
hand, telling me in a sweet, happy, womanly
letter of what neither you, who have had patience
enough to read this, nor I could be in the least
degree surprised to learn, — her engagement to
Major Vinton. The major himself, she wrote,
had been summoned as a witness before a court-
martial, and would be gone several days, but
back in time to welcome me. Then came a page
about Amory : " He has entirely recovered ;
that is to say, he is as strong and active as ever ;
but still — I don't know how to express it ex-
actly — he is not the same man he was before that
KITTrS CONQUEST. 83
night. You know that the wound in his shoulder
was a very slight one, and that his injuries were
mainly shocks and bruises received by being
thrown and dragged by his wounded horse.
When he was well enough to drive about, the
major used to bring him here frequently; and I
really thought that he and Kitty were going to
become great friends, for they wore ojff much of
the old embarrassment and seemed to be getting
along so nicely. Then he used to ride over and
spend entire afternoons with us ; and then, all
of a sudden, he stopped coming; only visits us
now when he has to ; and is so changed, so con-
strained and moody that I don't know what to
make of it. I really believe that Kitty was grow-
ing te like him ever so much; and she wonders,
I know, at this sudden change. Even when he
does come he avoids and barely looks at her."
It was strange ; and I puzzled over it for some
time. Matchmaking was hardly in my line of
business, yet no spinster aunt could have taken
more interest in the affair than myself. I was
really anxious to get back to the plantation and
see what could be made of it.
Harrod and the carriage were at the station to
meet me, and a rapid drive in the cool night air
soon brought us to the dear old house again ; and
there on the broad piazza, in the broad,
cheerful stream of light froui the hall, stood the
judge, Vinton, and Pauline ; and in a moment I
34 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
had sprung from the carriage aad was receiving
their warm and charming welcome. Vinton was
as happy in his quiet, undemonstrative way as
man could be, and the fond, proud light in his
dark eyes as he looked down at the graceful form
leaning so trustfully upon his arm, was a sight
that made me envious. Presently Kitty came
down ; but not the Kitty of old. Ah ! little girl,
what is it that has made those soft eyes so heavy,
so sad ? What has taken all the color from those
round, velvety cheeks ? "What has become of the
ringing, light-hearted laugh that came bubbling
up from heart-springs that seemed inexhaustible
in their freshness, their gladness ? It is of no use
to smile and chatter and prate about your pleas-
ure at seeing this antiquarian again. It is of no
use to toss your little head and look at me with
something of the old coquettish light in your
eyes. You can't deceive me, little Kit; you are
changed, sadly changed. I, who have been away
60 long a time, can see what others only par-
During the evening we all gathered in the par-
lor, talking over the events of my previous visit.
Kitty had early tired of any share in the con-
versation, and sat silent and absent, taking little
heed of what was said, though once or twice,
when we were not speaking of Amory, she rallied
for a moment and made an effort. She had taken
a chair near the window, and was more than half
KITTY'S CONQUEST §5
the time gazing dreamily out towards the road.
At last Yinton said he must get back to camp,
bade us all good-night ; his orderly came round
with the horses, and Pauline went out to see him
off, everybody else just at that particular moment
finding something of extreme interest which de-
tained him or her in the parlor.
It is odd how long it takes to say good-night
under those circumstances. Fully fifteen minutes
elapsed before the spurred boot-heels were
heard going down the steps ; then there was an-
other slight detention, — cause, unknown ; time,
three minutes and a half, — and finally the clatter
of hoofs as they rode off, twenty-seven minutes
by the clock after the time when the major had
announced that he must be off at once, — couldn't
stay another minute.
When the hoof-beats had died away, Pauline
came back to us radiant, lovely ; a;id even that
tease Harrod could not find it in his heart to say
one word on the subject of the major's unac-
countable display of unmilitary tardiness, though
he looked vastly as though he would like to.
Good-nights were exchanged, and soon after I
found myself cosily ensconced in my old quar-
ters in the wing.
About noon on the following day Mars trotted
up the road, and, throwing his horse's rein over
the gate-post, came " clinking" up the walk.
His heels were decorated with a pair of huge
86 KITTYS CONQUEST.
Mexicar. spurs, with little pendants of steel
attached to the rowels in such a way as to cause
a jingling with every movement. I had gone
out on the piazza to meet him, and he quickened
his pace and waved his cap with a cheery " How
are you, Mr. Brandon ?" the moment he caught
sight of me. As he sprang up the steps I saw
that he had at least lost none of his old activity ;
and though thinner and a trifle paler than when I
first met him, it was not at first glance noticeable.
After the excitement of our meeting was over,
however, and we were chatting over the Ku-
Klux entertainments, I noticed how soon he be-
came just the restless, absent, constrained fellow
that Pauline had described. He changed color
and started every time a footstep was heard in
the hall ; greeted Pauline warmly when she came
down, and seemed to be more himself when
talking with her, but even then his eyes wan-
dered to the doorway. Something was want-
ing ; and at last he made a vigorous effort and
stammered an inquiry as to " Miss Carrington's"
" Kitty is pretty well, and will be down in a
minute. She was writing to Aunt Mary when
you came. If I were Kitty / wouldn't come
down to see you at all, Mr. Frank Amory, for
you've not been near us for the last ten days,
and I presume we owe this call entirely to Mr.
KITTY'S CONQUEST. 87
Poor fellow ! he fidgets and looks woe-begone
enough ; tries hard to plead constant duties, no
lack of inclination, etc., and just in the midst of
it all, the rustle of skirts and the patter of quick,
light footsteps is heard in the hall, and Frank
Araory starts up with the flush deepening on his
cheek and forehead, and stands facing the door-
way as little Kit comes in, — comes in with a face
that flushes deeply as his own, with eyes that are
raised to his but for one brief second and then
seek any other object but the young soldier be-
fore her, with a nervous, fluttering reply to his
'' Good-morning, Miss Carrington ; I hope you're
well ?" and finally, as she subsides into an arm-
chair by the window, with an air of mingled
relief and apprehension that puzzles me inex-
pressibly. Amory, meantime, has resumed his
seat (on his forage-cap this time), and plunged
hastily into a description of a marvellous horse
they have just concluded to purchase for oflicers'
use. He must be a marvel ; and it is aston-
ishing what an amount of interest Frank takes
in telling Pauline all about his performances.
Kitty sits by the window listening, but saying not
a word; and after this sort of thing has been
kept up some twenty minutes Pauline excuses
" Now don't go till I come back, Frank ; I'll
only be gone a few minutes." And with a
glance at me that seems, as Mark Twain says,
88 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
** perfectly luminous with meaning" to her, but
which in my masculine stupidity I fail to com-
prehend until some minutes after, that young
lady makes her exit. Then Mars turns upon
me, utterly absorbed in the same horse, and with
distracting volubility tells me the same rigma
role he told Pauline, every word of which I
had heard. Then he asks questions about
Hank Smith that he had asked three or four
times already, and just as I'm beginning to won-
der whether his accident had not resulted in per-
manent injury to his mental faculties a servant
appears at the door.
" Miss Summers says will Mr. Brandon please
come and help her a minute." And as Mr.
Brandon obligingly rises to comply with her
request, Amory springs up too, whips out his
watch, and exclaims, —
" By Jove ! how time flies ! I told Vinton
I'd be back for afternoon stables, — must be off I
Good-by, Mr. Brandon ; come over to camp and
see us. Good-by, Miss Carrington ; sorry I have
to hurry." And out he goes ; clatters down the
steps and back to his horse; throws the reins
over the animal's head, and vaults into his sad-
dle; and then, with one wave' of his hand, dashes
off at a mad gallop.
I turned again into the house, and this is what
I saw in the parlor. Kitty Carrington, all alone,
standing there at the window gazing after
KITTY'S CONQUEST. 89
Amorj as lie disappeared down the road; her
tiny white hands tightly clinching the window-
sill ; two great big tears just starting from each
eye and trickling slowly, heavily down her
cheeks; her dainty form quivering with emo-
tion. Little by little I am beginning to suspect
the truth in the matter, and, as I turn softly
away without attracting her attention, mentally
resolve to unearth the whole secret. Pretty
business for a man of my years, you will say,
but " we lawyers are curious."
N.B. — Pauline didn't want me at all. It was
a ruse to get me away.
For the next three days matters went on in
pretty much the same groove. Amory came
over to dinner once and was utterly absurd, —
handed Miss Kit to her chair, took his allotted
place beside her ; and hardly addressed one word
to her tlirough the entire repast, though he gab-
bled unceasingly to every one else. Just as
soon as we could finish our cigars after dinner,
and an adjournment was moved to the parlor,
he declared he must be off; said he had a whole
heap of commissary returns to make up before
morning; and, with the briefest possible good-
night to the ladies and the judge, away he went.
Pauline looked puzzled, Vinton amused, and
Kitty — out of the window.
That night Mr. G. S. Brandon, who has
already played too inquisitive a part in this little
90 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
affair, resolved, before closing his eyes for a
good, old-fashioned sleep, that he might as well
be hanged for a sheep as a lamb, and pry still
further ; but he never dreamed how odd would
be the solution.
The next day Harrod Summers and I drove
over to the cavalry camp to see Amory. It was
a crisp, cheery morning, just enough wintry
rime in earth and air and sky to make rapid
motion a keen delight. As we neared the spot,
the mellow notes of the trumpet came floating
on the breeze, and as we rounded a bend in the
road, we came in sight of the troop itself trotting
across a broad open field. Mars was taking ad-
vantage of the glorious weather to brush up on
company drill, and we had arrived just in time
to see it.
It was a very pretty, stirring sight to my eyes ;
for the dash and spirit of the manoeuvres were
new to a man whose martial "associations had
been confined to the curbstones of Broadway,
barring that olistering march from Annapolis to
the railway, and the month of feted soldiering at
the capital and Camp Cameron in '61. Harrod
gazed at it all with professional calm ; occasion-
ally giving some brief and altogether too tech-
nical explanation of evolutions that were beyond
my comprehension. But the one thing which
struck me most forcibly was that, though fre-
92 KITTY'S CONqVEST.
quently trotting or galloping close to where w,i
sat in the buggy, Mr. Frank Amory never took
the faintest notice of us. His whole attention
was given to his troop and the drill ; and with
flashing sabre and animated voice, he darted
here and there on his big chestnut sorrel, shout-
ing, exhorting, and on occasion excitedly swear-
ing at some thick-headed trooper; but for all the
notice he took of us we might as well have been
back at home.
" Rather a cool reception," said I, " consider-
ing the youngster was so anxious we should
" Why, that's all right," said Harrod. " It is
a breach of military propriety to hold any kind
of communication with lookers-on when a fel-
low's at drill or on parade."
And yet to my civilian notions this struck me
as being uncivil. Less than a month afterwards
I saw the same young fellow sit like a statue on
his horse, and never give the faintest sign of
recognition when the girl I knew he — well, that's
anticipating — when a party of ladies were driven
in carriages past his troop, so close to his horse's
nose as to seriously discomfit that quadruped,
and one of the young ladies was Miss Carring-
ton. To my undisciplined faculties that sort of
thing was incomprehensible. I looked on at the
drill for a while, wondering how in the world
those fellows could manage to keep their seats
KITTY'S CONQUEST. 93
in the saddle without grabbing the pommel,
when Harrod remarked that he believed he
would go on into the village to attend to some
business, and leave me at Amory's tent until he
returned. Of course I could only assent ; and in
another moment I was landed in front of the
tent which had become so fixed a picture " in
my mind's eye" since the afternoon Mr. Stiggins
rode in to inquire where the lieutenant and his
people had gone. A darky boy officiously
brushed otf the seat of a camp-chair, saying that
" Mos' like drill'd be over in ten minutes." So
T sat me down under the canvas to wait.
Amory's tent was not luxurious. It was one
of the simple variety known as the " wall" tent,
so called probably because for three feet from
the ground the sides are vertical and give more
room than the " A" tents of the rank and file.
A camp-cot occupied one side ; a canvas-covered
trunk stood at the head. Then on the other
side of the tent was a rude field-desk, perched
on four legs; the pigeon-holes crammed with
portentous-looking blanks and papers, and the
lid lowered to a horizontal. On this lay a square
of blotting-paper, covered with ink-dabs and
some stray papers, an ungainly inkstand, and one
or two scattered pens and holders. A looking-
glass about the size of one's face was swung on
the front pole. A rude washstand was placed
near the foot of the bed. A swinging pole, hung
94 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
under the ridge-pole of the tent, constituted the
wardrobe or clothes-closet of the occupant, and
from this several garments were pendent. There
was no tent floor; the bare ground was the car-
pet; and but for one little table the abode would
have been rude in the extreme as the habitation
of a civilized being. The table in question stood
at the entrance of the tent, under the " fly" or
awning spread in front. A couple of pipes with
brier-root stems lay thereon, and a jar of tobacco.
But in an easel-frame of soft velvet, a frame rich
and handsome, conspicuously so in contrast with
all the surroundings, was a photograph — cabinet-
size — of a woman's face. It was not there on the
occasion of my first visit, nor was the table. But
there sat the picture, the first thing one would
notice in entering the tent; and, having nothing
else to do, I proceeded to examine it.
A sweet, placid, sorrow-worn face; eyes whose
wrinkled lids spoke of age, but yet looked calmly,
steadfastly into mine. Scanty hair, yet rippling
over the brows and temples as though indicating
that in years gone by the tresses had been full
and luxuriant. Scanty hair, tinged with many
a streak of gray, and carried back of the ears in
a fashion suggestive of the days that long pre-
ceded the war, — the days when Jenny Lind en-
tranced us all at Castle Garden (though I claim
to have been but a boy then) ; when Mario and
Grisi were teaching us Knickerbockers the
KITTV'S CONqUEST. 95
beauties of Italian opera; when Count D'Orsay
was the marvel of metropolitan society; when
daguerreotypes were first introduced along Broad-
way. All these I thought of as I looked into
this placid face, so refined in its every line ;
marking, too, that at the throat was clasped a
portrait in plain gold frame, the inevitable indi-
cation that the wearer was of Southern birth, for
none but our Southern women wear thus out-
wardly the portraits of those they love and have
lost. The picture fascinated me ; it was so sweet,
so simple, so homelike ; and, as I stood with it
in my hands, I could plainly see the strong
likeness between the features and those of my
plucky young hero, whom I was half ready
to be indignant with for ignoring me ten min-
utes before. His mother I knew it to be at a
Just then came an orderly bearing a packet
of letters. To my intense gratification — I don't
know why — he saluted with his unoccupied hand
as he said, " Letters for the lieutenant, sir." Was
it possible that he thought I might be some staff-
officer? He could not — that is, he would not,
had he ever seen me straddle a horse — suppose
me to be a cavalryman. Perhaps he had heard
I was with the lieutenant the night he nabbed
Hank Smith ; perhaps he — why, perhaps they —
the troop — had heard I had charged through the
woods to his support. Well, I took with digni-
96 KITTY S CONQUEST.
fied calm the bundle of letters lie handed me, and
endeavored to look the suppositious character
and place them carelessly on the table, when the
superscription of the very first one attracted my
attention. The writing was strangely familiar.
There were four letters, — two " official," long
and heavy ; two personal, and evidently of femi-
nine authorship. It was my business to lay them
on the table. I did nothing of the kind. Hold-
ing the package in both hands, I sat stupidly
staring at the topmost letter, — a tiny, dainty
affair, — and striving to come back from dream-
land. Where had I seen that superscription
before? There stood the address, "Lieut. Frank
Amory, — th U. S. Cavalry, Sandbrook Station,
Memphis and Charleston R. R., Alabama," every
letter as perfectly traced as through by the hand
of an engraver; every i dotted, every t crossed,
every capital having its due proportion, every
letter wellnigh perfect. The superscription itself
was a chirographic marvel. The writing was
simply beautiful, and I had seen it before. It
was familiar to me, or at least had been well
known. Pondering over it, I gazed, of course,
at the postmark: a mere blur. Something or
some place in New York was all I could make
out before it suddenly occurred to me that the
whole thing was none of my business anyhow.
I set the packet down on the table and strove to
shut it from my mind ; but there that letter lay
KITTF'S CONQUEST. 97
on top, staring me in the face ; I could not keep
mj eyes from it. I turned, picked it up and
placed it on the desk inside the tent ; dropped a
handkerchief that was lying there over it ; and
returned to my place under the fly. I wanted
to keep it out of my sight.
Presently, the bustle and laughter among the
tents of the soldiers near me gave warning that
the troop had come in from drill. The next
moment, as I was again holding and looking at
the picture in the velvet frame. Mars came
Bpringily forward, his sahre and spurs clinking
with every stride. He pulled off his gauntlet,
and held out his hand with a cheery and cordial
" So glad to see you, Mr. Brandon," and then,
as I was about to apologize for taking liberties
with his belongings, he said, — and how can I
throw into the words the tremulous tenderness
of his voice? —
"That's mother. My birthday present. It
only came a few days ago, and I like to have it
out here with me."
And the boy took it from my hands, and stood
for a moment, all glowing as he came from his
rapid drill, and with the beads of perspiration
on his face, and looked fondly at it.
" It's the only decent picture I ever had of her,
and, somehow, it almost seems as though she
were here now. That Ku-Klux business upset
her completely, and the blessed little mother
Ti ff 9
98 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
wants me to pull out and resign ; but I can't do
" I have been admiring it for some time, Mr.
Amory. The face attracted me at once, and it
was easy to see the family resemblance. May I
ask where your mother is living now ?"
" In Boston now, but I think she longs to come
South again. The North never seemed home to
her. Father was in the old army. Perhaps
Vinton has told you. He was killed at Freder-
icksburg, at the head of his brigade; and my
uncle, mother's younger brother, died of wounds
received in the same fight." Amory's voice
faltered a little and his color brightened. " Of
course they were on opposite sides," he added,
in a lower tone.
I bowed silently. Nothing seemed the appro-
priate thing to say just then. Presently Amory
went on :
" You see Pm about all she has left in the
world, — her only son. And when husband and
brother were both taken from her at one fell
swoop, it made it hard to let me take up father's
profession ; but it was always his wish, and the
only thing I'm fit for, I reckon."
"Po Yankees habitually say 'I reckon'?" I
asked, by way of lightening up the rather solemn
tone of the conversation.
Mars laughed. " Why," said he, " I'm more
than half Southern ; born in North Carolina, and
KITTY'S CONQUEST. QQ
spending much of my boyhood there at mother's
old home. They used to call me ' reb' the whole
time I was a cadet. It is a wonder I wasn't an
out-and-out ' reb' too. All mother's people were,
and they never have been reconciled to her for
sticking to father and his side of the question.
Poor little mother," he added, while the tears
gathered in his eyes, " she is alone in the world
if ever woman was, and I sometimes wonder if
I ought not to yield to her wishes and go and be
a clerk of some kind."
All the glow, all the life that possessed him as
he came in fresh from the exercise of his drill
seemed to have left Mars by this time. He was
profoundly sad and depressed. That was plainly
to be seen. Hoping to find something as a dis-
traction to his gloomy reflections, I called his
attention to the mail that had arrived during his
absence. He moved negligently towards the
desk, raised the handkerchief with weary in-
difference, and glanced at the packet underneath.
Instantly his whole manner changed ; the color
sprang to his face ; his eyes flamed, and a nervous
thrill seemed to shoot through his frame. Paying
no attention to the others, he had seized the
dainty missive that so excited my curiosity, and
with a hand that plainly shook tore it open,
tui'ned his back to me with the briefest " Excuse
me one minute," and was speedil}' so absorbed
in the letter that he never noticed me as I rose
100 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
and strolled out to the front of the tent and the
bright wmtry sunshine beyond. The boy needed
to be alone.
Fully fifteen minutes passed by before he re-
joined me, coming out with a quick, nervous step,
and a face that had grown white and almost old
in that time. What could be wrong with him ?
" Mr. Brandon, I beg your pardon for being
80 inhospitable. My letters were important, and
— and rather a surprise, one of them. It is just
about noon. May I ofter you a toddy ? It's the
best I can do."
Mr. Brandon, to the scandal of his principles,
decided that on this occasion he would accept
the proffered refreshment. It seemed to be a
relief to Mars. He bustled about, getting sugar
and glasses and some fresh spring water ; then
speedily tendering me a goblet, produced a black
bottle from his trunk.
" Shall I pour for you ?" said he. " Say when."
And in a moment the juice of the rye and other
less harmful ingredients were mingled with the
" You will excuse me," said he. " I never
touch it, except — well, that drink I took the
night on the train after our tussle with Smith is
the only one I've taken since I joined the troop.
I promised mother, Mr. Brandon."
The reader has already discovered that Mr.
Brandon could readily make a sentimental idiot
KITTY'S CONQUEST. IQl
of himself on slight provocation. Hearing these
words of Mr. Amorj's and the renewed allusion
to the mother who filled so big a place in the
boy's heart, Mr. Brandon deposited his glass on
the table and held out his hand ; took that of the
surprised young soldier ; gave it a cordial grip ;
made an abortive attempt to say something neat
and appropriate ; and broke abruptly off at the
first word. Then Harrod came back.
" Brandon," said he, " there's the mischief to
pay in New Orleans. I've just received the
papers, and it looks as though there would be
riot and bloodshed with a vengeance."
" What's up now ?" I asked, with vivid interest.
" It seems to be a breaking out of the old row.
Two legislatures, you know, and a double-headed
executive. More troops are ordered there."
I eagerly took the paper and read the head-
lines. The same old story, onl}'^ worse and more
of it. The State-house beleaguered ; the metro-
politan police armed with Winchesters and man-
ning a battery ; the citizens holding indignation
meetings and organizing for defence against
usurping State government ; two riots on Canal
Street, and a member of one legislature shot
down by the sergeant-at-arms of the other; a
great mob organizing to attack the governor and
the State-house, etc., etc. It all looked familiar
enough. I had seen the same thing but a short
time before. It was simpl}^ a new eruption of
102 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
the old volcano, but a grave one, unless I utterly
misjudged the indications.
" Amory," said Harrod, " mount your horse
and come over to dinner with us. Mr. Brandon
and I must go back, for there are matters in the
mail which require my attention at once."
But A.mory said he could not leave. In Vin-
ton's absence he felt that he ought to stick to
camp. We drove back as we came.
Both the young ladies were on the gallery
when we drove up. Harrod shook his head in
response to the look of inquiry in Pauline's eyes.
" Not back yet, and no news of him, — unless
— unless — there should be something in this let-
ter," said he, with provoking gravity and delib-
eration, as he felt in every pocket of his garments
in apparently vain search, while the quizzical
look in his face proclaimed that he was purposely
reserving the right pocket for the last.
Miss Summers stood with exemplary patience
and outstretched hand. At last the eagerly-ex-
pected letter was produced, and Harrod and I
went in to talk over the startling tidings from
]Srew Orleans. The next moment we heard
Pauline's rapid step in the hall and ascending
the stairs ; heard her go hurriedly to her room
and close the door. Harrod looked puzzled and
a little worried.
" I hope there is no bad news from Vinton,"
he said. " That rush to her room is unlike her."
KITTY'S CONQUEST. IQ^
Then tlie swish of Kitty's skirts was heard.
Harrod stepped out and spoke some words to her
in a low tone. Her reply was anxious and startled
in its hurried intonation, but the words were in-
" She says Pauline did not read her letter
through at all, but sprang up with tears in her
eyes and merely said she must run up-stairs a
few minutes. What do you suppose is wrong ?"
Of course I had no explanation to oifer.
Pauline did not return for an hour. "When she
again appeared she was very pale and quiet.
Harrod meantime had taken a horse and ridden
off to Sandbrook, where he wanted to reach the
telegraph-office. It was late in the evening when
he returned. I had been reading in the library
for some time w^hile the ladies were at the piano.
He strode into the hall and stood at the parlor-
" Pauline, did the major tell you in his letter ?*'
" Tell me what ?" she inquired, with quickly
" That their orders had come ?" She hesitated
and made no reply. Quickly he stepped forward
and threw his arm around her, tenderly kissing
" You'll make a soldier's wife, Pauline. You
can keep a secret."
And now, looking quickly at Miss Kitty, I saw
104 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
that she had risen and was eagerly gazing at
them, a strange, wistful light in her sweet young
" What is it all, colonel ?" I inquired.
'' The cavalry left for ITew Orleans at dark.
Araory got telegraphic orders soon after we left,
and Viiiton came in from the "West by the even-
ing train and took command at the station.
Neither of them had time to come out here to
say good-hy," he added, with an involuntary
glance at Kitty, while still holding Pauline's hand
in his own.
" You saw Major Vinton ?" Pauline calmly
" Yes, dear. I have a note for you. He was
only there thirty minutes. Amory had the troop,
horses and all, on the cars before the Memphis
train got in."
She took her note and with him walked into
the library. Irresolutely I stepped out on the
gallery a moment. Then returning for a cigar
or something consolatory, I nearly collided with
Miss Kitty at the parlor-door. She recoiled a
pace; then with her bonny head bowed in her
hands, with great sobs shaking her slender form,
my unheroic little heroine rushed past me and up
the stairs to her own room. I felt like a spy.
The next few days passed somewhat gloomily.
Eager interest centred in the daily paper from
'New Orleans. The Times in those days was
" run" entirely in the interest of a strong fac-
tion not inaptly termed " carpet-baggers." Eew
of the Republican party of the white element
had been natives and property-owners in the
State before the war. All of the colored race,
most of them at least, had been residents per-
haps, but held as property rather than as prop-
erty-owners. The Picayune, always the repre-
sentative of the old regime in the South, was
naturally the journal which found its way into
our distant household. Its pictures of affairs in
the Crescent City were startling beyond question,
and its columns were filled with grave portent of
riot, insurrection, and bloodshed.
Judge Summers was visibly worried by its
reports. Harrod looked gloomy and ill at ease ;
Pauline very grave ; Kitty picturesquely doleful.
All, however, seemed to relax no effort to make
me feel at home and " entertained," but the
evident cloud overshadowed me. I began to
want to get away.
106 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
If all New Orleans were swept bj the flames,
my personal losses would be slight; but the
small library I owned would be an excuse. My
confidence that neither side would set fire to
anything was only equalled by that which I felt
that both would join forces to put it out if they
did. For two years we had been having just the
same exhilarating experiences, and it never came
to burning anything but a little powder. Some-
times one side, sometimes another would raise a
huge mob, and with much pomp and parade,
with much blatant speech-making and wide pub-
lication of their intentions, would march noisily
through the streets towards some public build-
ing, at that moment held by the opposite party,
avowedly for the purpose of taking it by force
of arms. The first year there had been some
desultory shooting, but no casualties to speak of.
The second there had been less damage, though
far more display; for by this time there were
three parties in the field. Then, however, Uncle
Sam assumed the role of peace-maker; sent a
general thither with his staft* (giving him a major-
general's title and a major's force), with vague
orders as to what he was to do, as I chanced to
know, beyond keeping the peace and upholding
the law and the constituted authorities. As
three parties claimed to be the "constituted au-
thorities," it seemed embarrassing at times to tell
which to uphold. "Washington ofiicials declined
KITTY'S CONQUEST. ]07
to decide for him, so the veteran soldier hit on
the happy expedient of upholding the party that
was attacked. This put him squarely in the
right so far as keeping the peace was concerned ;
for whichever crowd sallied forth to whip the
other, invariably found a small battalion of bay-
onets, or on one occasion a solitary aide-de-camp
representing the United States. They would not
"fire on the flag"; so retired to thunder at one
another through the press. But it put him
squarely in the wrong where settling the ques-
tion for good and all was concerned. So long as
the factions felt sure they would not be .allowed
to fight, the more they talked about doing it;
and the real sufferers were the patient, plodding
infantry officers and men, who were kept trudg-
ing up and down, night and day, from town to
barracks. They were tired, hungry, jaded-look-
ing fellows that winter. I had called three of
them into my room one chill morning after they
had been standing all night on the curb-stones
of the State-house waiting for an attack they
knew would never come ; warmed them up with
coffee or cocktails as they might prefer ; then one
of them opened his heart.
" This whole thing is the most infernal farce,"
said he. " Ten to one the true way to stop it is
to send U3 miles away and let them get at one
another. The Lord knows I'd afford them every
encouragement. They don't want to fights If
108 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
old General Fitz Blazes would only send me with
my company beldnd instead of between these
howling idiots they'd evaporate quick enough."
Well I recalled every bit of this ! It was
when the " radical" party was split up into local
factions, each demanding the State-house — and
the Treasury; but — things were different now.
The old residents, the business men, the repre-
sentative citizens of the city had stood that sort
of thing just as long as human endurance and
their ebbing purses could stand it. They now
had organized and risen against the perturbed
State authorities; and when that class of men
began shooting somebody was going to be hurt.
As yet nothing aggressive had been done ; but
the Republican government was tottering on its
Louisiana throne, and appealed for aid. This it
was that was sending troops from all directions
to the Crescent City. I decided to go and pro-
tect my lares and penates, trivial though they
To my relief, yet surprise, the moment I men-
tioned this to Colonel Summers his face lighted
up with an expression of delight.
" Mr. Brandon, we'll go together, and as soon
as you like."
Noticing my evident surprise, he added, " To
tell the truth I ought to go, and at once. Will
you come into father's library and let me ex-
KITTY'S CONQUEST. 109
Assenting, as a matter of course, I followed
him. Pauline was seated by her father's side as
we entered, writing, as she often did, from his
" Father," broke in the colonel, abruptly, " we
can spare you all that work. Mr. Brandon tells
me he has decided to go at once to New Orleans.
I will go with him, and take the papers."
The judge rose somewhat slowl}" — anxiety had
told on him very much in the last day or two —
and greeted me with his old-fashioned courtesy,
" It is a source of great regret to me — to us
all — that you should leave us; yet you have
doubtless anxieties, as indeed I have, — great,
ones, — and I wish it were in my power to go
myself; but that cannot be, for a fortnight at
least; and by that time, as things are looking
now, it may be too late, — it may be too late.
My son will tell you " he broke off suddenly.
Miss Summers had risen ; her sweet, thorough-
bred face had grown a little paler of late, and
she stood anxiously regarding her father, but
saying not a word. For some moments we sat
in general conversation; then, noticing how tired
the judge was looking, I rose, saying it was time
to make preparations.
Two hours later, the old carriage rattled up to
the steps. The colonel stood aside, holding some
final consultation with his father. Miss Sum-
mers, with a blush that was vastly becoming to
110 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
her, handed me a letter for the major. "As yet,
you know, Major Vinton has not been able to
send me his New Orleans address. They arc
barely there by this time ; but you were so in-
cautious as to offer to take anything to him, so I
burden you with this."
Kitty Carrington was looking on with wistful
" And you, little lady ? what note or message
will you intrust to me ?"
She had smoothed back her bright hair. She
was looking again as she had the night she
begged to play nurse over our unconscious
Mars. She looked older, graver, but so gentle,
80 patient in the trouble that had come into her
young life. Whatever that trouble might have
been I could not say. There was something
very pathetic about the slender little figure as
she stood there.
For all answer to my question, she shook her
head, smiling rather sadly, yet striving to throw
archness into her accompanying gesture. The
faint shrug of her pretty shoulders, the forward
movement of her hands, with open and extended
palms, — something so Southern in it all. I could
not help noting it. Possibly I stared, as previous
confessions indicate that I had that adventurous
night in the cars.
My rudeness caused her to turn sharply away
with heightened color.
KITTY'S CONQUEST. m
Then came general good-byes, good speeds,
good lucks, promises to write, — those promises,
like so many others, made only to be broken.
"We clambered into the carriage. Already the
driver was gathering his whip and reins ; had
" chucked" to his sleepy team. Harrod was
sitting on the side nearest the group on the
steps ; I craning my neck forward for a last look
at them, Kitty was eagerly bending forward;
her lips parted, her eyes dilated, her fingers
working nervously. Already the wheels had
begun to crunch through the gravel, when with
sudden movement she darted like a bird down
^^ Harrod!" she cried.
" Hold on, driver," was the response, as he
bent to the doorway to meet her.
Standing on tiptoe, her tiny white hands
clutching his arm, a vivid color shooting over
her face, her eyes one moment nervously, appre-
hensively, reproachfully glancing at me, plainly
saying, "Please don't listen," then, raised to his
bronzed, tender face, as he bent ear towards her
lips in response to the evident appeal. She rap-
idly whispered half a dozen words. " Do you
understand? Sure you understand?" she ques-
tioned eagerly, as now she leaned back, looking
up into his eyes.
He bent still farther, kissed her forehead.
" Sure," he nodded. " Sure."
112 KITTrS CONQUEST.
Then back she sprang. Crack went the whip,
and we rolled away towards the gate.
Looking back, my eyes took in for the last
time the old home ; and the picture lingers with
me, will live with me to the end of my lonely
life. The red-gold light of the setting sun
streamed in all its glory on the southern front
of the quaint plantation house. The tangled
shrubbery, the sombre line of the dense forest
beyond the fields, the vines and tendrils that
clung about the gallery railing and the wooden
pillars, the low-hanging eaves, the moss-covered
line of porch-roof, — all were tinged, gilded,
gleaming here and there with the warmth and
glow of the gladness-giving rays. The windows
above blazed with their reflected glory. Even
old Blondo's curly hide and Jake Biggs's woolly
pate gained a lustre they never knew before.
All around the evidences of approaching decay
and present dilapidation, so general throughout
the bright sunny South years after the war, all
around the homeliest objects, the wheelbarrow and
garden tools, there clung a tinge of gladness in
answering homage to the declining king of day ;
but, central figures of all, the trio we left upon
the steps, ihei^ fairly stood in a halo of mellow
gold. The gray-haired gentleman waving his
thin hand in parting salutation ; the noble,
womanly girl at his side, half supporting, half
leaning upon him ; and on the lower stair, kiss-
KITTY'S CONQUEST. 113
ing her hand, waving her dainty kerchief, her
eyes dancing, her cheeks aflame, her white teeth
flashing through the parted lips, her fragile form
all radiance, all sweet, glowing, girlish beauty,
stood Kitty Carrington ; she who but a moment
before had seemed so patiently sad.
"Did you ever see anything prettier?" I
gasped, as at last the winding roadway hid them
from our sight.
"Kitty, Brandon? — she's a darling!" was the
That was precisely my opinion.
All the way into Sandbrook 1 was tortured
with curiosity to know the purport of the mys-
terious parting whisper. It would not do to let
Colonel Summers suspect that of me; neither
would it answer to propound any question. We
had much to talk of that is of no interest and
has no bearing on our story, but it kept us em-
ployed until we reached the station.
Our train was due at 7.45, going west, thts
same hour at which the troops had left. Their
single passenger-car and the four freight-cars on
which their horses were carried had been coupled
to the regular train. They had gone, we learned,
to Grand Junction ; thence down the Mississippi
Central. The station-master was an old army
friend of the colonel's. He received us with all
courtesy, and immediately asked us into his own
114 KITTY'S CONqUEST.
" Reckon you'd best just make yourselves com-
fortable, gentlemen; that train's nigb onto two
hours late, near as I can make it."
" Two hours late ! Why, that will ruin our
connection !" exclaimed Harrod.
" They're going to try and make the Central
wait over," was the answer, " but I'd bet high
on our being later'n we think for. Once a fellow
gets off his schedule on this road, he's more apt
to be losing all the time than gaining,"
The colonel and I looked at each other a mo-
ment in some dismay. Quandary though it was,
there was nothing for it but to wait, and wait we
did, two — three hours. The darkness grew in-
tense back towards the Tennessee ; the loungers
in the waiting-room or platform in groups of
two or three, rose, yawned, stretched themselves,
" 'Lowed t'warn't no use waitin' ; could see the
derned train any other night just as well," and
took themselves and their tobacco-juice off. The
lights across the way, beyond the tracks, died
out one by one, until only those two were left
which represented the rival saloons, still keeping
open for the presumable benefit of some prowler
hoping to get trusted for a drink. Finally only
the station-master and ourselves were left, all
drowsy, but the former still seated, with his one
remaining hand close to his telegraph instru-
ment. Still no news of the train. I began to
KITTY'S CONQUEST. I15
It could not have been more than ten or fifteen
minutes before the clickins; of the instrument
aroused me. Having long since ceased to care
whether the train now came or not, since we had
lieard by nine that the Central would not wait,
I only sleepily gazed at the operator. The colonel
had gone asleep, and the sound did not awake
him. But another moment the expression on
the face of the man sitting so intently over his
table aroused me to eagerness. At first profes-
sionally indifferent, it grew suddenly clouded;
then a look of keen distress came upon it as he
quickly glanced around at his old comrade.
I involuntarily sprang up and approached the
table. He had written half the message, then
dropped pencil and hammered away at the key.
" For him," said he, with a backward jerk of
the head to indicate the colonel.
It seemed an endless time before he could get
the thing straightened out and the message
" Please wake him," said he.
I gently shook Harrod's shoulder. He started
up with soldierly promptitude.
" Train coming ?" he asked, as be began gath-
ering his traps.
" Not yet, colonel. It's news from the boys,
" Got to New Orleans all right ?"
" Got there ; but — read for yourself."
116 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
"With, a face that paled even in the dim light
of the station, and lips that trembled under hia
moustache, the colonel read, handed it to ue
without a word, and turned away.
This was the message :
" New Orleans, Tuesday,
" Colonel H. Summers, Sandbrook Station, M. and C. K. K.,
" Arrived yesterday. Vinton dangerously ill ; delirious
Post surgeons in charge. If possible, come.
Then we three looked at one another with
faces sad and blanched. Harrod was the first to
" May I take your horse, Billy ?"
" Yes, and the house and barn if it'll help."
" Then I'm off for home at once, for Pau-
The delay of that train was a blessing in dis-
A DIM, murky morning it was that dawned on
Sandbrook the following day. I had spent the
livelong night at the station. The missing train
came unheeded, soon after Colonel Summers on
"Billy's" horse loped off into the northern dark-
ness. I had sent a dispatch to Amory, care
of Department Headquarters in New Orleans.
" Billy" had hospitably invited me to share his
humble breakfast, made most relishable though
by the steaming coffee " cooked" army fashion
in a battered old pot with a reliable lid. I had
noted with respect and with pleasure the fine
picture of General Lee hanging over the narrow
mantel, and the battered old cavalry sabre be-
neath it ; and was beginning to ask myself how
I could best employ the day until evening train-
time, when the rapid beat of hoofs and the
familiar rattle of the carriage-wheels sounded in
" Hyar they come," said " Billy." " I knew
Even before we could reach the platform, the
carriage had whirled up there and Harrod sprang
from the box-seat.
118 KITTY'S CON qv EST.
" That freight gone by yet, Billy ?"
" The freight ! Lord, no ! Colonel, you're
not going to take Miss Summers that way ?"
" It hasn't gone, dear," he quickly spoke to the
silent inmate of the carriage. " But it's due how
soon?" turning again to his friend.
" Ten minutes, colonel, and on time, too, if
you're bound to go by her."
" By all means. "We may strike something at
Corinth; if not, we'll go on to the Junction."
Then with lowered voice, " Anything is better
than waiting at such a time. We'd better get
them out, I think."
Them ! Who could be there ? thought I, for
up to this time I had thought best not to intrude.
Now I stepped forward as he opened the carriage-
door, and with light, quick spring out popped
"Mr. Brandon will take charge of you. Kit;
there's a dear," said he, gently, then turned again
to the door, and tenderly handed out his sister.
She came instantly to me with dry ej^es, and firm,
low voice, ovAy with face so pale. She frankly
held forth her hand, which — which I took in both
" Have you heard anything further ?"
I shook my head.
" And you have been sitting up here all night
waiting for us How kind, yet how tired you
must be !"
KITTY'S CONQUEST. 119
" I never expected you till eveniDg," I an-
swered, bluntly, and was rewarded by a look of
quick, reproachful surprise.
" Harrod reached us at one o'clock. It took
very little time to get ready. Mr. Brandon, can
you make ajiy conjecture as to the nature of his
" None whatever ; fever of some kind, I am
half inclined to believe, contracted while off on
this court-martial tour."
She bowed her head, and now silent tears fell
from her eyes. Harrod led her to one side and,
putting his arm around her, stood whispering
cheeringly to her. Then I turned to Kitty, who
was very quietly engaged in getting out satchels,
baskets, and travelling-bags ; all was done before
I reached her.
" It is a surprise to see you, Miss Kitty."
" A surprise ! Surely you did not suppose I
would let Paulie go on so sad a journey without
me. There are many ways in which I can help
There was no answer to the wisdom of that
statement. The distant whistle of the freight
had twice been heard, and in ten minutes our
party of four were disposed in the conductor's
caboose. The situation had been explained to
that officer in very few words by Harrod and
" Billy ;" and, with that almost chivalrous cour-
tesy which the roughest-looking men in the South
120 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
show to the gentler sex on all occasions I ever
witnessed, the train-hands had busied themselves
in making a comfortable corner for the ladies.
Kude and poor were the appliances, but Walter
Raleigh never laid down his priceless cloak for
foot of royal mistress with truer grace than did
those rough ex-soldiers spread their blankets,
coats, and pillows to make a soft substructure
for the heavy shawls which the ladies had with
them. Watching, as I have on a thousand occa-
sions, the gentle courtesy of Southern men to
women, high or low, I never lack for explanation,
never wonder how they came to fight so well.
Bayard Taylor struck the key-note when he
wrote, — .
" The bravest are the tenderest,
The loving are the daring."
At noon we were at Corinth and eagerly ques-
tioning the officials there. No train till nine.
" What chance by going to Grand Junction ?"
"No better, colonel; they've had the custom-
ary smash-up on the Central, and 'taint no use
trying. Even if the road weren't blocked, their
south-bound express don't get off as early as ours
" Are there no trains coming south, not even
" Colonel, I'm sorry, but there's not a train
of any kind, — nothin' except a special, going
KITTY'S CONQUEST. ]2l
through a-whoopin' for Orleans, I suppose, with
a lot o' damyankees."
" "What ! a special with troops, do you mean ?"
asked Harrod, eagerly.
"Exactly; somewhere from up in Tennessee.
Two or three companies — but. Lord ! j^ou couldn't
ride with them even if they'd let you. They
telegraphed ahead here for coffee for seventy
men, and want to take the kettles on to the next
station. Not much "
" Never mind, Mr. Agent," broke in Harrod,
impatiently; " when are they due?"
"Coffee's ordered for 12.30. Reckon they'll
be along very soon," replied the nettled func-
"What say you, Brandon? Shall we try
" Most assuredly ; and I think it can be done."
Four pairs of anxious, eager eyes watched that
train of " damyankees" as it came rushing into
the station sharp at 12.30. A crowd of sullen-
looking " white trash" had gathered, a larger
knot of curious and eager darkies, to see the
sight. The engine whizzed past the platform;
then two passenger-cars, from every window of
which protruded blue-capped, dust-begrimed sol-
dier heads ; sentries stood at the doors, and only
as the last car — a third passenger-car — came op-
posite us did the train stop. A sharp, business-
like young fellow, in dust-covered fatigue dress
122 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
with infantry shoulder-straps and cap, sprang
"That coffee ready?" he asked, bounding at
the agent at once.
" Wall, I s'pose so," drawled the party ad-
dressed, as though desirous of giving all the
annoyance he could.
" If you want your money you'd better know,
and lively too. We've no time to waste. Tumble
out here. Sergeant Triggs. Bring six men while
this party is waking up."
Then as his men went into the kitchen to brinjr
out the steaming caldrons, I asked if I could see
the commanding officer on immediate and im-
*' Certainly, sir; rear car. Come this way."
We followed him, Harrod and I; found the
forward half of the third car filled, as were the
other two, with the rank and file. At the rear
end were half a dozen sleepy, dusty, and dis-
" This is Major Williams, sir," said the busi-
ness-like youngster, and in an instant he was out
on the platform again.
A tall, dust-colored officer rose to meet my ex-
tended card and hand, mild surprise in his eyes.
" Major," said I, " Major Vinton, of the cavalry,
lies dangerously ill in Kew Orleans. He is en-
gaged to the sister of my friend. Colonel Sum-
mers. No train leaves here until nine to-night,
KITTY'S CONQUEST. 123
and in our eagerness to get to Vinton before it
be too late we ask to be taken with you."
For an instant the commanding officer was
staggered by my impetuous harangue, but " he
" Major Vinton, say you ? I'm distressed to
hear it. I know him well by reputation, though
it has not been my good fortune to meet him.
We — we must find some way Excuse me,
let me speak one instant with the quartermas-
He quickly stepped to a bulky, stolid-looking
youth, and addressed him in few rapid words.
The whistle blew, — my heart stood still. He
sprang to a window, stuck out his head, and
" A — a — Mr. J^rpin. Stop the train. Don't
start till I tell you."
" All right, sir," came back in the quick, sharp
tones we had heard before.
Again the major and the stolid youth met.
"We heard snatches of the latter's words, — " no
precedent, no authority," — and my heart again
sank. Like Mr. Perker of blessed memory, I
was about to interpose with "But my dear sir,
my dear sir," when Mr. Turpiu burst in like a
thunder-clap at the rear door.
" Jupiter Ammon, fellows ! Blow the dust
from your eyes if you want to see the prettiest
girl in the South !"
124 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
"Never mind precedent; we'll make a prece-
dent," broke in the major, impatiently. " Gen-
tlemen," — he turned to us, — " you see how for-
lorn are our surroundings, but you and yours are
welcome." The whole thing took less time than
it takes to read it.
Harrod sprang for his sister. Mr. Turpin
sprang for Kitty. Eager hands seized the bags
and traps, shoving them through windows, any-
where, anyhow ; and half bewildered, all grateful,
all surprise, Pauline and Kitty found themselvefe
aboard, and we were spinning out of inhospit-
" Pardon our great haste, ladies," I heard the
major saying. "We must be in New Orleans
some time in the early morning." The " dam-
yankees" were going to get us there twenty-four
hours ahead of any other arrangement we could
Shall I ever forget that almost breathless ride ?
" Be here to-morrow morning without fail" were
the words of the dispatch Major Williams had
received at the point where his train left the
Louisville road and swung into the rails of the
Mobile and Ohio. It was the " longer way
round," — that through Mobile, — but some late
experiences had proved it the shorter way home ;
and, as the conductor presently explained to the
major, on entering the car, " Pve given the engi-
neer orders to jump her for all she's worth. We
KITTY'S CONQUEST. 125
only stop for water and passing one up-train.
Even the express has to side-track for us."
Then the conductor wiped his hot brow, and
with infinite surprise looked first at the ladies
just getting settled into the seats eager hands had
been dusting and preparing for them, then at me.
Then Harrod came quickly to us, and in him he
recognized at once Colonel Summers of the Ala-
bama cavalry of by-gone days. "With the Free-
masonry of old campaigners, they gripped hands
before questions of any kind were put. Harrod
promptly explained the situation. " Thanks to
these gentlemen, we are permitted to share their
car. Of course we settle with you for the fare.
But for their kindness we could not have reached
!N"ew Orleans before late, perhaps too late, to-
The conductor turned to the oflicers : " Major
"Williams, sir (yes, he did say " sah," and I liked
to hear it), I want to thank you in the name of
the road for your prompt courtesy to these friends
of mine. I had to j ump for the telegraph-office
myself, and did not see them. You can just bet
your life, sir, the Mobile and Ohio shall know
of it, and they'll thank you in a way I'm not
And so, whizzing at forty-five miles an hour.
Southron and Yank were drawing into the
brotherhood of a common sympathy.
And so it went all through that grimy after-
126 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
noon. With what unremitting thoughtfuhiess
and care those fellows looked after our fair
charges ! The sanctity of her grief and anxiety
rendered Miss Summers the object of the deepest
respect and,, sympathy. Reclining at the rear of
the car, her veil drawn over her face, none hut
Harrod ventured to approach her; but Kitty was
the centre of incessant attention, and through
her all manner of improvised delicacies were
brought to Pauline. The dust was stifling,
and indefatigable Mr. Turpin appeared from
somewhere in front with a tin basin filled with
cracked ice. The doctor came forward with a
silver cup of delicious lemonade (he had levied
on his pannier for lime-juice and powdered sugar)
dexterously rendered soulful by a dash of Vini
Gallici. Kitty smiled her thanks to both, and a
duplicate of the beverage was grateful to her
silent cousin. We flew over the rattling rails,
and the jarring was incessant. The doctor pro-
duced an air-pillow for Pauline's head. We
stopped somewhere for water, and the major dis-
appeared. The ladies had brought luncheon in
a large basket — but no appetites. The soldiers
had rations and were filled. The officers had not
had a mouthful since a breakfast at 3 a.m., and
were hungry. No chance for a bite until 5 p.m.,
when, said the conductor, they might grab a
sandwich at Ragsdale's, at Meridian. "But we
can't stop three minutes, boys." Kitty overheard
KITTY'S CONQUEST. 127
it. She was in animated conversation with a tall
subaltern, who claimed to be from Kentucky.
They were sitting three seats ahead of Miss
Summers, who was undisturbed by their chatter;
all voices were subdued as far as was possible.
Mr. Turpin, who was a man of few words but vast
action, was hovering about, eager for a chance to
do something. She knew it. They all seem to
have infinite intuition that way.
" Oh, Mr. Turpin, would you please bring me
our lunch-basket?" And Turpin was down upon
as like his namesake of old, demanding the bas-
ket in a manner suggestive of " or your lives."
Another second and it was deposited in front of
her, and she bade him summon his brother-
hood; and they went, even the stolid quarter-
master, who felt sheepish apparently. And there
she sat like a little Lady Bountiful, dispensing
to each and all (a Southern lunch-basket reminds
me of the parable of the loaves and fishes), and
they surrounded her, eating and adoring.
At five we rolled into Meridian, and Rags-
dale's sandwiches were forgotten. Major Wil-
liams sprang from the train.
"Yes, dear," I heard Harrod saying to his
sister, " I will try and send a dispatch from
here," and with that he rose. I went with him
in search of the telegraph-office. At the door
we met the major, some open dispatches in his
128 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
" Have we time to send a despatch to New
Orleans ?" asked Harrod, eagerly.
" Hardly," said the major, with a quiet smile.
" But won't this do ?" and he placed in Harrod's
hand one of the papers. The message read :
" Telegram received. Assure Vinton's friends that fever
is less. He receives best care. We are hopeful now.
" Reynolds, A.A.G."
" Thank God !" I uttered.
Summers, with tears starting to his eyes,
grasped the soldier's hand.
" You are a very thoughtful man, sir."
" All aboard !" yelled the conductor. " Get
those lamps lit now."
Somehow I was glad it was dusk in the car as
we sprang aboard. Harrod, with quick, eager
step, went directly to her. Something told her
he had news, and she rose, throwing back her
veil, and bent eagerlj' forward. He placed the
paper in her hand, and, clutching it, she seemed
to devour the contents. Kitty had turned quickly
to look. Conversation somehow had ceased.
Then we saw her glance one instant up in his
face. Then his strong arms were round her,
for, burying her face in his breast, she had burst
into a passion of almost hysterical weeping.
Then we all turned away and shook hands. The
whole car knew Vinton was better. One soldier
KITTrS CONQUEST. 129
up in front wanted to give three cheers, but was
promptly suppressed. Kitty's own eyes were
overflowing as she received the congratulations
of the lately banquetted, and with a great load
ofl* our hearts we sped onward through the dark-
Two sweet pictures remain in my memory of
that strange night. First was that of Miss Sum-
mers and Major Williams. At her request Har-
■rod brought him to her, that she might thank
him for the thoughtfulness, the delicate atten-
tion he had shown. Her face was exquisite in
the revival of hope, in the intensity of gratitude.
The second was about 11 p.m. We had had
to make some stops. Our run was now less im-
peded. It had grown chilly and raw. Coming
in from the front, whither I had gone to smoke
with the conductor, I found the inmates of the
rear of our car apparently buried in slumber,
except one figure. Mr. Turpin, with his blouse
collar turned up and his hands in his pockets,
was sitting bolt upright. Two seats behind him,
her fair hair curling about her rounded cheek,
sleeping like a babe after all the fatigues and
excitements of the day, but from neck to foot
completely enveloped in a cloak of army blue,
was Kitty Carrington, our rampant little rebel
Early in the morning, earlier even than 1
had supposed possible, the conductor's voice was
heard announcing to somebody that we would
be in New Orleans in less than half an hour. I
had been sleeping somewhat uneasily, curled up
on one of the seats. I was dimly conscious of
the fact that at some unknown hour in the night
another telegram had been received referring to
Vinton, and that Miss Summers was wide awake
when it came. I remember Harrod's bending
over and kissing her, and hearing the words,
" That is better yet." Then sleep again over-
powered me. Now, at daybreak, I arose and
gazed around the dimly-lighted car. Miss Sum-
mers, Harrod, and Major Williams were the only
occupants apparently astir. The former was sit-
ting near the opened window; the cool, salty
breeze from the Gulf was playing with the rip-
ples of fair hair that clustered about her fore-
head. She looked very white and wan in the
uncertain light, but there was a womanly ten-
derness and sweetness about her face that made
it inexpressibly lovel}^ to me. She was gazing
wistfully out over the sea of marsh and swamp,
KITTY'S CONQUEST. I3]
as though longing to bridge the distance that
still separated us from the city, where he lay
battling with that insidious enemy. Harrod and
the major were in earnest conversation. Other
occupants of the car were beginning to stir un-
easily, as though warned that soon they must be
up and doing ; but Kitty still slept, and the cloak
of army blue still covered her. Mr. Turpi n had
A few moments more and the officers had
been aroused ; the men were donning their belts
and equipments; Pauline herself stepped for-
ward, and, bending over her pretty cousin,
roused her from her baby-like sleep; and glancing
from the windows, I could see that we were roll-
ing up the " Elysian Fields." Then came the
curving sweep around on the broad levee. All
looked quiet, even deserted, as we passed the
Mint and the wide thoroughfare of Esplanade
Street. Some of the lamps still burned dimly
in the cafes and bars, but no trace of commotion
or excitement could be discerned. It was with
some little surprise then that our eyes met the
warlike scene as we rolled into the station at the
foot of Canal Street.
The instant the train stopped, our car was
boarded by an alert gentleman in civilian dress
whom I had often seen, and whom I knew to be
an aide-de-camp on the staff of the commanding
general. He came at once to Major Williams;
132 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
ehook hands with him, and conveyed some orders
in a low tone of voice ; then asked to be presented
to Colonel Summers. Major "Williams brought
him to where our group of four was then stand-
ing, at the rear of the car, — Miss Summers, Kitty,
Harrod, and myself.
" Let me introduce Colonel Newhall, of Gen-
eral Emory's staff"," he said, and the colonel,
raising his hat in general salutation to the party,
spoke in the hurried, nervous way I afterwards
found was habitual with him, despite the sang-
froid that distinguished him at all times save in
the presence of ladies.
" I have come direct from Major Vinton's room,
Colonel Summers, and am happy to tell you that
the doctors pronounce him much better. The
general charged me to bring you the latest news
of him, and to express to you and to your ladies
his warm interest and sympathy."
Then we had not come as strangers to a strange
land. I glanced at Pauline, as her brother,
warmly grasping the staff'-officer's hand, pre-
sented him to her and to Kitty. Her clear,
brave eyes were suffiised with tears and she did
not venture to speak a word ; but she was infi-
nitely moved by the constantly recurring evi-
dences of interest in her and her gallant lover.
Such an informal announcement of an ensfao^e-
ment perhaps was not strictly in accordance with
the prevailing customs of society, but the exi-
KITTY'S CONqVEST. 133
gencies of the case put all such considerations
aside. Everybody on our train knew the story of
course, and it had evidently been telegraphed to
headquarters. Meantime, Major Williams had
been superintending the debarkation of his men,
and they were forming ranks on the platform out-
side. Beyond them, a long line of stacked arms
was guarded by sentries, and several companies
of infantry were grouped behind them, watching
with professional interest the arrival of comrade
soldiery. A number of ofiieers had gathered at
the side of the car, — very weary they looked too,
and far from jaunty in their dusty fatigue uni-
forms ; but they were intent on welcoming Major
Williams and his command, and at that hour in
the morning, costume and unshaven chins were
not subject to criticism. Time and again it had
been my lot to be at this very station, but never
before had I seen it thronged with troops. It
was evident that matters of grave moment were
going on in the city.
Colonel Newhall had left the car for a moment
and Harrod came to me :
" It seems that Vinton is at Colonel Newhall's
quarters on Eoyal Street, Mr. Brandon. He met
the troop on its arrival in town, and finding Vin-
ton wellnigh delirious with fever, had him taken
at once to his lodgings. There are a number of
vacant rooms, he tells me, and he has made all
arrangements to take us right there ; so there we
134 KITTV'S CONQUEST.
will go. The St. Charles is crowded, and Pauline
naturally wants to be near him. I think it the
best arrangement that could possibly be made."
Even as he finished, the colonel came in to say
that the carriage was ready. Harrod, Pauline,
Kitty and I followed him to the platform. The
group of officers standing there courteously raised
their forage-caps as our ladies passed them. Kitty
looked furtively about her as she stepped from
the car, and Mr. Turpin sprang forward to take
her light satchel. It was but a few steps to the
carriage. Pauline and Kitty were handed in.
Summers and Colonel Newhall took their seats
in the carriage. We shook hands all round
without saying much of anything, except that I
should meet them later in the day; the driver
cracked his whip, and away they went up Canal
Street, Mr. Turpin and I gazing after them.
Even as we looked, there came trotting down
the stone pavement towards us a pair of cavalry-
men. The one in front, tall, slender, erect, I
recognized at once as Frank Amory. The one
in rear was evidently his orderly. Never no-
ticing the carriage, which had hurried off on
the Custom-House side of the street, the former
rode rapidly to the very point where we were
standing. I saw Mr. Turpin look eagerly at
him, then spring forward.
" Sheep, old man, how are you ?"
" Hello, Cyclone ! when did you get here ?"
KITTY'S CONQUEST. 135
and throwing the reins to his orderly, Frank
Amory sprang from the saddle, and warmly
grasped Mr. Turpin by the hand. The boys
It was perhaps a minute before Amory noticed
that I was standing there, so absorbed was he in
greeting his comrade. The moment he caught
sight of me, however, he stepped quickly forward.
Quite a number of the younger officers had gath-
ered around by this time, and with heightened
color he looked eagerly in my face.
" When did you come? Who — who else came?"
he asked, excitedly.
" We arrived only a few minutes ago," I said.
" Miss Summers, Miss Kitty, and the colonel with
me. They just drove off in that carriage. We
are so rejoiced to hear Major Yinton is better."
" You don't say so !" he exclaimed, then stopped
short, as though at a loss what to add. " I — I
had no idea she — you could get here so soon.
Yinton is better, thank God ! Where have they
" To Colonel Newhall's quarters," I answered.
" It seems there are several rooms, and the col-
onel says his landlady will take the best of care
of them. Then they will be near him, which is
something to be considered."
" Why, Sheep, did you know Colonel Sum-
mers and Miss Carrington ?" broke in Mr. Tur-
136 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
" Yes, quite well. I was stationed near tliem,"
was the answer, given with some constraint.
Mr. Turpin stuck his hands deep in his pockets
and said not another word. Other officers crowded
about Mr. Amory to inquire for Major Vinton,
and to ask lor news. Presently Major Williams
came up with Colonel Starr, the commanding
officer of the battalion that was " in bivouac" at
the station, and I was presented to the latter.
From them I learned something of the situa-
They had been on guard all night there at the
station. What for they could not exactly tell.
It seems that one faction of the Legislature oc-
cupied the temporary State-House ; another had
its headquarters over a prominent bar-room in
Royal Street; and a large concourse of citizens
had organized with military formalities and the
avowed intention of dislodging the factional
Legislature from the house; installing a Gov-
ernor of their own choice ; and subduing the
police force of the city, now enrolled as a uni-
formed and fully-equipped battalion of infantry,
with a battery of field-guns and a squadron of
cavalry as assistants. The police held the vari-
ous stations, and no encounter had taken place;
but the citizens had turned out in great numbers,
and the chances were that they would prove too
powerful for the mixed array of the police force;
and trouble had been anticipated for that very
KITTY'S CONQUEST. I37
night, but it had not come. A strong battalion
of infantry was posted here at the railway sta-
tion. Another, after a day of weary marching,
was resting at a large cotton-press up the levee;
two companies of cavalry were stationed at the
quartermaster's warehouse up in Magazine Street,
near the headquarters of the commanding gen-
eral, and two foot batteries from an artillery
regiment had spent the night in the State-House
itself. Cavalry patrols had been scouting through
the city all night, promptly reporting any un-
usual gathering, but in no case interfering.
Verily these were strange accompaniments to
the times of piping peace.
It was after seven o'clock when I reached my
rooms. I was tired and ought to have been
sleepy after the long, rapid ride by rail, but the
morning papers were full of exciting prophecy as
to the events of the day, and sleep was out of
the question. Amory had declined my invita-
tion to breakfast, saying that he could not be
away from his troop more than fifteen minutes
at a time, and had only managed to get down to
the station while out looking after his patrols.
A bath and a change of raiment proved refresh-
ing. Then I took a car ; rode to Canal Street ;
walked down Royal to Colonel Newhall's lodg-
ings; met one of the doctors, who assured me
that Major Yinton was doing very well, and that
later they hoped he might be well enough to see
138 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
Miss Summers. He was still flighty and had no
idea of his whereabouts. The ladies were up-
stairs resting. "Would I see them ? No, I pre-
ferred not to disturb them, and so went off by
myself to breakfast at my usual haunt, Moreau's.
The room was already well filled when I entered.
Most of the tables were occupied, many of them
by prominent citizens. Much earnest talk was
going on in subdued tones, and there was an air
of suppressed excitement that was noticeable to
the most careless observer. Two of the tables
were occupied by a party of infantry officers
whom I had seen at the station, and it was no
ticeable that within earshot of them little was
being said in reference to "the situation." I
had several acquaintances among the business
men present, and took a seat near them. The
first words that fell upon my ears were, —
" And it will be done to-night, you may de-
pend upon it."
" But do you suppose that General Emory will
stand by and allow such a thing to go on under
his very nose ?"
" General Emory can't help himself, sir. His
orders from Washington do not permit him to
act unless called upon by the marshal or by the
State authorities. The whole thing will be over
and done with before they can make their de-
mand, and our people will have dispersed before
the troops get there."
KITTTS CONQUEST. 139
"But suppose they get wind of it and call upon
him to station his men to meet the move ?"
" Why, that ends it, of course. We are help-
less in that case. We don't mean to raise a finger
against the general goverriment. Let him send
a corporal's guard to any one of the places and
it's safe ; hut as for this infernal mottled po-
" Steady !"
And then both speakers looked up at the party
of infantry officers, who had risen and were
quietly leaving. Then they looked at me, and
the rest of the conversation was in too low a
tone for any one to hear.
The day was one of restless anxiety, yet of
apparent quiet and order. The broad " ban-
quette" of Canal Street was thronged with ladies
and children as is customary on bright after-
noons. The matinees at the Varieties and the
St. Charles Theatre were crowded. At half-past
four, as I strolled up the street under the friendly
shade of the awnings, that made the wide side-
walks one long arcade, I was struck by the per-
fectly peaceful aspect of the scene. From the
Custom-House to Rampart Street, on the lower
side of the way, I did not see a policeman, much
less a soldier in uniform; but at all the cor-
ners, the knots of unoccupied men were much
larger than usual; this being especially the case
around Dumonteil's and Lopez's confectioneries,
140 KITTF'S CONQUEST
and the well-known establishment of " Dr. Sam-
On the opposite side and grouped around the
brown-stone building of the Shakespeare Club,
half a dozen men in civilian dress were lolling
about, and less than one hundred yards up Drj-
ades Street, as many more were sitting or stand-
ing around the entrance of the massive Mechan-
ics' Institute, now used as a State-House and
place of meeting of one at least of the rival
Legislatures; but there was nothing in its ex-
terior to indicate the state of siege as described
in the daily press. In all, there might have been
one hundred loungers scattered from Victor's
marble-columned restaurant on the lower side
down to " Dr. Sample's," in the middle of the
next block; but absolute quiet and order reigned.
Some of the windows in the second story of the
Institute were open, and occasionally the features
of some colored legislator could be seen peer-
ing curiously and cautiously out towards Canal
Now that demon of curiosity that has alwayu
possessed me, prompted me to stroll across the
broad thoroughfare and to approach the entrance
of Dryades Street. As a neutral, I felt serenely
confident that neither side would take exceptions
to my movements, but looking behind me as I
reached the car-tracks, I saw that the listless
loungers on the banquette had crowded forward
KITTY'S CONQUEST. 141
to its edge, and were watching me with interest.
Keeping on, however, I soon reached the upper
side, and deliberately walked ahead as though
bent on going to the State-House. The instant
I got beyond the Canal Street pavement, how-
ever, one of the men I had noticed at the upper
corner stepped quickly in front of me and said, —
" Pardon me, Mr. Brandon, where did you
wish to go ?" Then, seeing my look of surprise,
he smilingly added, " Of course I know you, sir,
though you do not know me ; I'm a detective."
•' Why," said I, " if there be no objections, I
would like to go to the State-House, just to see
what is going on."
" I'm sorry, sir," was the civil reply ; " at this
moment our orders are to admit nobody."
Now, I hated to go back. I knew well that
all those estimable fellow-citizens of mine on the
other side were watching the scene, and that
they would be sure to hold me in lighter esti-
mation if I had to retire. I put a bold face on
the matter and whipped out my card-case.
" There are two batteries of foot artillery in
there, I'm told, and among their officers is a
gentleman whom I used to know in New York
and would like to see. Can you send this to
him?" I hastily scrawled "Late K Y. 7th
Regt." under my name. The detective took the
card; whistled to a boy who stood near; the
youngster seized it and was off like a shot;
142 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
while my detective and I walked slowly towards
the building. Before we reached the stone steps,
a fine-looking fellow in the fatigue uniform of
the United States artillery came out and looked
inquiringly around. I stepped forward at once
and introduced myself; was most courteously
greeted and invited to walk in; the police official
smilingly nodded "All right now," and, guided
by the lieutenant, I entered the mysterious por-
tals of the besieged halls of government.
It was an extraordinary sight that met my
eyes. Grouped inside the vestibule, where they
could not be seen from Canal Street, or indeed
from any point on Dryades except directly in
front, were some fifty Metropolitan police in
complete uniform and the equipments of infan-
try soldiers ; belts, cartridge-boxes, bayonet-scab-
bards, and all. Their officers, with drawn
swords and weai-ing shoulder-straps like those
of the regular service, were gathered in front.
Stacks of Winchester rifles stood close b}^, many
of the men having their muskets still in their
hands. All the lower hall and the staircases
were crowded with these improvised troops,
some white, some colored, there being white
men in the rank and file, and colored men
among the officers. All were very quiet, or-
derly, and apparently well disciplined. Some
of those who were seated on the stairway rose
rather slowly to make way for us, and a colored
KITTY'S CONQUEST. 143
officer in the shoulder-straps of a captain spoke
in a quick, sharp tone to them ; and, black and
white, they sprang to their feet and re^ectfully
drew aside. At the head of the stairs were sen-
tries and an officer of the guard, all in police
uniform, and they saluted my artillery guide
with all the precision of regulars.
" Would you like to look in at your Legisla-
ture?" asked he, with a mischievous grin. I
assented. The officer of the guard opened a
door, and we found ourselves in an inner hall or
vestibule. Here we came upon a dozen colored
men surrounding a low wooden counter or table
covered with pies, cakes, sandwiches, and fruit.
Behind the counter sat an old negress in vehe-
"It's no use talkin', gen'lemen, you's just
wastin' yo' time. Las' year I done trus' de gen-
'lemen of de Senate an' Representives, an' dey
ain't paid me yit."
"But fo' de Lawd's sake, Mis' Fontelieu, 1
ain't had nuffin to eat sence day befu' yis'day
mawnin', an' I's starvin', I is. Yo' ought ter
have some consideration fo' gen'lemen of de
Legislature what's sufferin' here fo' you an' de
people. Soon's we done git our salaries we's
goin' to pay you fiis' thing. Ain't we, gen'le-
men ?" said the spokesman appealingly to his
" Of co'se we is, Mis' Fontelieu," was the
144 KITTY'S CONqUEST.
chorus, but all to no purpose. ^Miss Fontelieu's
experiences witli previous Legislatures and legis-
lators had undermined her faith in the stability
of their financial condition, and nothing but cash
in hand would induce her to part with any of
her stock in trade.
" I'd buy them a breakfast myself," said my
lieutenant, laughingly, " for I know very well
that they have had nothing to eat except what
they could pick up here ; but we contributed all
our spare greenbacks yesterday, and they'd be
just as hungry by ten o'clock to-night."
"We pushed on through the lobby and entered
the main room, the temporary hall of representa-
tives, and here another odd sight greeted our
The room was large, rectangular in shape ; a
raised platform being at the farther end; rows
of cane-bottomed chairs were arranged in semi-
circular order across the hall ; a desk for the
presiding officer was on the platform ; and tables
and desks for clerks and reporters stood below
it. Scattered in groups all about the room were
upwards of an hundred men, some white, some
colored, stretched at length upon the chairs,
others were lying asleep. The instant we en-
tered, conversation ceased, and all looked eagerly
and inquiringly at my companion ; even some
of the recumbent figures straightened up and
gazed at him. Several stepped forward from
KITTY'S CONQUEST. 145
the nearest group and asked if there were any
news, receiving with evident disappointment hia
civil reply that he had heard nothing.
" They have been cooped up here for nearly
forty-eight hours," the lieutenant explained.
"You see, they've just got a quorum, and the
Governor knows blessed well that if they once
get out, the chances are ten to one they'll never
get back. Either the other crowd will mob them,
or, in fear of the attack on the State-House, they
will keep in hiding somewhere around town."
The Governor, with his officers, was in hia
private room down-stairs, my friend explained ;
and the Senate was likewise blockaded in another
part of the building ; and this was the shape in
which one Governor, at least, of the sovereign
State of Louisiana was " holding the fort" against
all would-be adversaries.
Then we left the hall of unwilling representa-
tives; clambered another flight of stairs, and
came upon what the local press had not inaptly
termed " the citadel." Here, in an upper room,
half a dozen officers of artillery of the regular
service were killing time, reading, writing, or
dozing; and most disgusted they looked with
their occupation. On being presented to the
commanding officer and his comrades I was cour-
teously greeted and invited to make myself at
home, "if," said the major, "you can find any
comfort in the situation. I've only once in my
Q k 13
146 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
life been on more distasteful duty, and that was
when we were sent to break up illicit distilleries
Their orders, I learned, were that both officers
and men should remain in the State-House, and
not leave, even for meals, which were to be sent
from a neighborinaj restaurant; and there they
had been for two nights and days, in readiness
to defend the place if attacked, yet having every
assurance that so long as there remained a " regu-
lar" soldier in the building it would not be mo-
lested. 'No wonder they yawned and looked
bored to death ; and my proffer of services was
gladly accepted. " Send us anything you may
have in the way of reading matter, and we'll be
only too thankful," was the major's half-laughing,
half-rueful reply, and after an hour's chat I left.
The lieutenant accompanied me to the entrance,
where he bade me good-by. The knot of detec-
tives drew aside and passed me out without re-
mark. Once more I crossed Canal Street, and
in an instant found myself surrounded by a bevy
of eager reporters, note-book and pencil in hand,,
clamoring for information. From the obscurity
of yesterday, Mr. G. S. Brandon had suddenly
leaped into prominence.
At nine o'clock that evening I was seated on
a balcony overhanging Royal Street, quietly chat-
ting with Miss Summers, Kitty Carrington, and
Ilarrod. Vinton was much better, the doctors
had assured us ; the fever was broken ; he had
recognized Pauline during the afternoon, and
was now asleep. The doctor had advised her to
lie down and rest, for, after all her anxiety and
the excitement of her rapid journey, she was
looking very white and wan ; but after an hour
in her room she had again appeared, pleading
that she could not sleep, and Harrod had led her
out to the balcony, where we sat enjoying the
uv^ening air. Colonel Newhall had not returned
from headquarters. "We saw him for an instant
at Moreau's, whither Harrod, Kitty, and I had
gone for dinner, about six o'clock, leaving Pauline
to share the simple tea offered her by the sympa-
thetic landlady. He had stopped just long enough
to say that it was not probable that he would
be home daring the evening, — he was needed
at the office, — and then had walked briskly away.
Coming home we could not help noticing how
many men there were standing in quiet groups
x48 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
about the Claj statue and all along Canal Street ;
but Royal Street, generally so busy and bustling,
was strangely quiet, wellnigli deserted. It was
an exquisite night; the moon was at her full,
and objects across the narrow thoroughfare were
almost as distinct as in broad daylight. I could
easily read the signs over the shops, and distin-
guish the features of the few people who passed.
It was very still, too. Oif to our left, towards
Canal Street, the roar of wheels over the massive
pavement was to be heard, but few sounds broke
the stillness near our balcony. Some distance
down the street a clear, ringing voice was carol-
ling the page's song from " Mignon" ; across the
way two or three darkies were chattering in that
indescribable language that sounds like French,
}et is no more French than Siamese, the patois
of the Creole negroes ; but not a wheel or hoof
awakened the echoes of the compact rOws ot
Our landlady came out and looked uneasily up
" I'm sure I don't know what to make of this,"
said she. " Ordinarily Royal Street is gay in the
evening. To-night it is still as a cemetery. I
know something is going to happen. A neighbor
of mine on Chartres Street, just back of us, says
that hundreds of men have been going down there
for the last hour, — going down towards Jackson
Square, — and they had guns, most all of them."
KITTY'S CONQUEST. 149
It was just then that somewhere near us a clock
began striking nine.
Hardly had the last stroke died, quivering away
through the still night air, when from the di-
rection of the great cathedral, opposite the very
square she named, there came a sudden and
startling uproar, a rattling volley of small-arms,
u chorus of yells that made the welkin ring ; then
a pandemonium of shots, shouts, and yells all
together. Instantly, people below could be seen
rushing to close their shutters ; the chattering
darkies disappeared around the corner, and we
had sprung to our feet and were listening ex-
citedly to the clamor, which increased with every
moment. Pauline quickly stepped in-doors ; her
first thought was for her lover, and she had gone
to his door. Kitty, very pale, was grasping the
balcony rail and looking appealingly up in Har-
rod's face. He and I gazed questioningly at each
other. Full a minute we stood there before any
one spoke. Then Harrod pointed up Royal
" Look ! What is this ?"
Leaning over the balcony I gazed eagerly up
towards the white colonnade of the St. Charles,
glistening and brilliant in the moonlight. Coming
towards us in perfect silence at rapid, shufiling
step, with the moonbeams glancing from their
slophig arms and glistening bayonets, was a
column of soldiers. Another moment and they
150 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
were directly under us, and with them, drawn
by horses, was a large field-piece. I recognized
the uniforms at a glance : they were the police.
Rapidly, almost at double-quick, they filed under
the balcony and marched on down the street.
We followed them with our eyes until they
turned to the right, some squares farther east,
and waited further developments. The noise of
the firing, the shouts and yells had partially died
away, but not entirely. Suddenly there came a
renewal of the clangor; the rattling fusilade was
resumed, then came a volley or two, delivered
as though by word of command ; then a deafen-
ing roar that shook the windows.
"By Jove, Brandon, I can't stand this," said
Colonel Summers. " I must go and see what it
means." Then came another tremendous bang.
*' That's a twelve-pounder !"
But Kitty and the landlady implored him not
to go, and as a final compromise the latter agreed
to guide him through her premises to her neigh-
bor's house on Chartres Street, where he could
find out all that was going on without being ex-
posed to the danger of the street ; and in a few
moments more we were both, he and I, standing,
on a balcony that overhung the latter street
Royal Street had been wellnigh deserted. Char
tres Street was a scene of excitement and con •
fusion. Far down to the left we could see the
flash of small-arms and hear the shouts of th«>
KITTY'S CONQUEST. 151
excited men. Directly under us, numbers of
citizens were running, some towards Jaclvson
Square, where the fighting was going on, others
towards Canal Street, as though eager to get out
of the way. A man living in the house had just
come in, pale and panting, and to our quick in-
quiries he replied that at nine o'clock a great
crowd of citizens had suddenly assaulted the
police station opposite Jackson Square ; had
whipped out the police and completely gutted
the building ; that they had things all their own
way until General Badger suddenly appeared
with a big gun and a lot of reinforcements, and
now there was going to be a tremendous fight.
Crowds of citizens were coming from every direc-
tion and hemming in the police, and no more
reinforcements could reach them, said our in-
Even as he spoke, we saw a large body of men
in civilian garb, but many or most of them armed
with shot-guns and rifles, coming up Chartres
Street from the Square. Halting at the corner
below us, some twenty or thirty of them were
told off and left there ; the others went on.
Their leaders spoke in low tones to the people
they met in the street, and the latter turned
back as though in implicit obedience. In five
minutes, except the silent groups of armed men
at the corner, Chartres Street was as deserted as
at dawn of day. The firing and noise had ceased.
152 KITTV'S CONqUEST.
*' There are crowds going down Custom-House
Street and the levee," said our still panting friend.
" These parties are being thrown out in every
direction to prevent more of the police from
getting in to help Badger ; then in course of an
hour we'll have five thousand citizens down
there around the Square, and if the United
States troops don't interfere it will be all up
with the police."
In eager interest Harrod and I waited. Below
us the party at the corner had posted two senti-
nels, who were pacing across the street in most
approved soldierly fashion. Every now and then
a distant cheer was heard over towards the levee,
— fresh bodies of citizens were coming in or
somebody was making a speech perhaps. Har-
rod went back to the house to reassure Pauline,
but speedily returned. Vinton was still sleeping
quietly, and the doctor was there with the ladies.
He said it was understood on the street that at
ten o'clock the citizens were going to resume
the attack and with every prospect of success.
Already they had an overwhelming force.
I looked at my watch. It was just ten minutes
of ten. Over on the levee the hoarse shouts of
the crowd could be heard at more frequent in-
tervals. Far up the street, towards Canal, I
could see a dense black mass blocking the en-
trance, evidently a crowd of people drawn thither
by curiosity, but restrained by a sense of danger
KITTY'S CONQUEST. I53
from coming farther towards the scene of action.
The sentries still paced the streets at the corners
above and below us. Two squares farther down
towards the cathedral we could see the other sen-
tries pacing to and fro. " Those are the police
pickets," said our previous informant; "just
wait five minutes and you'll see them skip."
. Again I nervously looked at my watch. I
was trembling with suppressed excitement. The
police station was only four squares away to our
left. I thought I could see the moonbeams
gleaming on the big gun that our friend and
fellow-citizen said the police had run out in the
middle of the street and pointed towards the
Suddenly there came a racket towards Canal
Street. We all leaned over the balcony and
gazed eagerly in that direction. A single black
shadow came swiftly down the middle of the
street. "We heard the loud clatter of iron-shod
hoofs on the stone-block pavement. A horseman
riding at full gallop came flashing through the
moonlight. " Who comes there ?" shouted the
sentries above us. "Don't stop him!" yelled
some authoritative voice as the horseman, never
heeding either challenge or rebuke, thundered
along almost at racing speed. As he sped under
the balcony I did not need to see the glittering
aiguillettes and shoulder-knots, or hear the clank
of the cavalry sabre, to recognize the youngest
154 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
of the general's aides-de-camp. Again he was
challenged at the lower corner, and some excit-
able party in the crowd fired a gun. Mj nerves
jumped in quick response, but on went the
officer. Then we heard shouts farther down and
two more shots, this time from the police, and
then Harrod grabbed my arm.
" Come on ; let's go and see it. I can't stand
this." And leading the way he plunged down
the stairs, I following.
" You can't get through there, gentlemen,"
said the leader of the party below us ; " the police
hold the street below." So we headed for the
levee, two squares away ; found a surging crowd
there, but, half running, half walking, we pushed
ahead, speedily finding ourselves at the outskirts
of a great throng of men spreading out over the
broad levee towards Jackson Square. Under
the gas-lamp at the corner, now surrounded by
a dense throng, we could see the aide-de-camp,
seated on his panting horse and in animated con-
versation with some of the citizens nearest him.
I had met the young officer and knew him
slightly, and was eager to hear what he might
say, but it was impossible to get nearer. In a
moment, however, he turned away and rode back
towards the police station. A tall, gray-headed
gentleman, of soldierly bearing and address,
stepped upon a box or barrel and spoke briefly
to the crowd, —
KITTrS CONQUEST. 155
" Gentlemen, — General Emory sends word that
in compliance with his orders the United States
troops are now marching to the defence of the
police. There is nothing further for us to do.
You will therefore disperse."
And without a word, in perfect quiet and order,
the crowd began to break up and move off up
and down the levee. Curious as usual to see all
there was to be seen, I suggested to Harrod that
we should go to the station. He assented, and
we elbowed our way through the crowd ; reached
the street that runs along the upper side of the
Square from the levee to Chartres Street ; found
it utterly deserted, and so, rapidly pushed ahead.
Presently we drew near enough to see that the
head of the street was occupied by the cannon
and its detachment, and a company of police.
The next instant, half a dozen bayonets came
flashing down upon us. "We were surrounded
by a squad of men under command of a darky
sergeant, and with loud summons to surrender,
and much excited adjuration not to resist if we
didn't want want our heads blown oflT, Colonel
Summers and myself were roughly seized and
hustled towards the station.
" Here's two of the d — d scoundrels anyway,"
was our introduction to the men in the ranks as
we were hurried along, and my very vehement
protestations were lost amid the chorus of jeera
with which we were greeted. Already we were
156 KITTY'S coNquEsr.
within a few yards of the station-house door,
when I caught sight of the aide-de-camp talking
with the chief of police. I shouted his name,
despite the savage order from my captors to shut
my mouth if I didn't want to be killed, and in-
stantly he recognized me, sprang forward, and
ordered the police to stand back, which they
sulkil}'- did. I breathlessly introduced Colonel
Summers, and he too was freed from the rude
grasp of the two stalwart " peelers" who held
him. Then the chief came up. Explanations
followed, and despite my indignation we had a
" My men are somewhat nervous to-night,"
said he, apologetically. " Even the full uniform
of the captain here did not protect him, you see ;
the pickets up the street fired at him as he came
to the rescue, but I will send a sergeant with you
to see you safely through the lines." So after
taking a look at the demolished station-house,
we were courteously escorted up Chartres Street,
and in a few minutes we were laughingly telling
our adventures to the ladies on our gallery.
Even as Harrod was in the midst of the recital,
there was heard the rapid tramp of many hoofs
up the street, and a troop of cavalry came sweep-
ing down at rapid trot. "Well out to the front,
followed by his trumpeter, rode a tall, slender
young officer, whose form was now familiar to
us all. He glanced up at our balcony as he passed
KITTY'S CONQUEST. I57
beneath us, the moonlight shining full in his
brave young face. Pauline waved her handker-
chief ; a gauntleted hand returned the salute ;
and with Kitty's eyes furtively following him
Frank Amory ewept by.
Later in the night, after the ladies had re-
tired, Harrod and I once more walked down to
the square to see how things were going on.
All was very quiet. A battalion of regular in-
fantry had stacked its arms in the middle of the
street in front of the dismantled station-house ;
the men were seated along the curbstone ; some
in their weariness were lying asleep upon the
stone pavement ; the otiicers, grouped under the
archways of the old police court on the other
side of the street, were puffing their cigarettes
and sleepily discussing the situation. Major
Williams and his command were not there; the
battalion on duty was one which had been for
some time past stationed at Jackson Barracks
below the city. A little farther down we came
upon Amory and his troop making a night of it
in front of the Cathedral. The horses were still
saddled, though with loosened girths, but had
been unbitted, and were busily munching at the
hay spread before them on the pavement. Mars
himself was seated on the curbstone with a grain-
sack in his lap, petting his horse's head as that
quadruped blissfully devoured the oats with
KITTY'S CONQUEST. 159
whicli his thoughtful master had heaped the
sack. Harrod hailed him gleefully.
" That takes a fellow back to old times, lad,
only oats were scarcer than horses."
Mars held out his unoccupied hand, looking
up with rather a tired smile on his face.
" How's Vinton ?" he asked.
" Very much better, we think," said Harrod,
" though he is very weak, and has had an ugly
siege. I think he will be housed some time
" Did you see — did you happen to hear of any
letter for me at Sandbrook before you came
away ? I told them to forward everything, but
nothing has come."
" No," replied Harrod. " Had there been
anything I think they would have told us,
though it may be that letters were simply re-
directed and dropped in the Corinth mail."
There was so much anxiety in Amory's face
that it suddenly occurred to me to ask, " Your
mother is not ill, I hope ? You have heard from
"Mother is quite well, thanks. I had tele-
graphed her of our move, and a letter reached
me yesterday. This was — I rather expected an-
other letter." And even in the pale moonlight
it was plain that Mr. Amory was blushing vividly.
Instantly I was reminded of the letter he had
received at camp, and received with such evident
160 KITTV'S CONQUEST.
excitement. Was it from that source lie now
looked for another ? If so, what did it mean ?
Mars was getting to be a mystery.
*' When are you coming to see us ?" asked the
" I don't know. I'd like to come at once, but
you see how I'm fixed, — the only officer with the
" Well, if all should be quiet to-morrow, come
and dine with us at Moreau's at six, will you ?"
persisted Harrod. " There will be no one but
ourselves and the ladies, you know ; and if you
are pressed for time just meet us there. We'll
"I would be delighted to," answered the young
fellow, though in a strangely embarrassed and
hesitating way, " but I really cannot promise.
You see how it is, don't you?" he continued,
looking almost appealingly at me ; but I chose
not to " see how it was," and only insisted on
seconding Harrod's invitation. All the old Adam
in me was wild with curiosity to see him with
Kitty once more, and his reluctance or hesitancy
was something that only served to make me
more persistent. Have you never noticed that
amiable trait in many a man or woman who,
having passed the meridian of life him- or her-
self, seems bent on directing in the most trivial
matters the plans and movements of younger
persons ? It was no earthly business of mine,
KITTY'S CONqUEST. \Ql
and yet I was determined to have Mars come
and see Kitty whether he wanted to or not
Harrod, of course, was actua ed by no such
Early on the following day, on going to my
office, the few letters deposited on the desk were
naturally the first things to be disposed of. Al-
most wearily I glanced at the superscriptions,
for nobody in New Orleans felt particularly
business-like that morning. Some were from
correspondents up the railway; others from
" down the coast." I simply glanced at their
envelopes, and had just about completed the
list, when suddenly hand and eye rested upon
a dainty little missive, an envelope of creamy
white, and addressed to me — to me in the very
handwriting that had so attracted my attention
and curiosity in Amory's tent at Sandbrook.
Here was the same exquisite chirography. I
knew I had seen it before. I knew now why it
seemed so familiar then. For six years or there-
abouts it had not fallen under my gaze; and
when it did, six years before, it was only that a
proud papa might exhibit to me the beautiful
writing of his daughter, then in her last year at
school in New York City, the youngest child of
a sister lung since dead. It was the handwriting
of my pretty niece, Bella Grayson, — Bella, whom
I had not seen since her girlhood, and all at
once it flashed across my perturbed brain that
162 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
Frank Amory's mysterious correspondent was
this self-same Bella. Here was a revelation in-
For some minutes I was too much confounded
to open the letter. Then I proceeded to read it.
A very bright, graceful, well-expressed note it
proved to be. Uncle George was appropriately
reminded that it was more than two years since
he had written to papa. Papa did not propose
to write again until his letters were answered ;
but, feeling a trifle uneasy while reading the ac-
counts of the stormy times in New Orleans, and
having seen occasional mention of Uncle George
in connection with Ku-Klux excitements, she had
been commissioned to make inquiries as to Uncle
George's health and fortunes, to express the
hope that Uncle George would no longer neglect
them as he had, and to subscribe herself very
affectionately. Uncle George's niece, Bella.
So far 80 good. Uncle George had very vivid
recollections of Miss Bella in her graduating
years, and had been vastly impressed by the
vivacity, wit, and sparkle of the bright little lady
who made his last visit to her father's home so
pleasant a thing to look back upon. From that
time to this he had never seen her, but never had
she been entirely dropped from his remembrance.
For four years or so he had occasionally occupied
himself in the metaphorical selection of an ap-
propriate wedding-present, as home letters gave
KITTY'S CONQUEST. 163
indications tliat Miss Bella was contemplating
matrimony; but it never seemed to pass tlie
point of contemplation. Twice at least, on
authoritative announcements, Miss Bella had
been " engaged." A dozen times at least, if re-
ports were to be relied upon. Miss Bella was on
the verge of that social entanglement. It wa?
in the winter of '65 that she had first begun to
exercise that involuntary gift of fascination over
Uncle George which seemed to involve him, as
it did all masculines who came within the sphere
of her movements. I say involuntary, because
then and ever afterwards. Miss Bella was wont
to protest that she was no more conscious of any
effort or desire to attract than she was of breath-
ing when asleep. She had spent some months
of the preceding summer and autumn at "West
Point. She was petite, graceful, not absolutely
a beauty, yet there was something about those
large, clear, heavily-lashed gray eyes of hers that
had all the effect and power of beauty ; and even
when only eighteen, as she was then. Miss Bella
had learned their influence, and, involuntarily of
course, how to use them. I had not been a wit-
ness of the campaign itself, but I could not live
in their cosey home in the city for a week without
becoming measurably aware of its results. The
postman's visits to the Grayson residence were as
regular as his rounds, and it often happened that
letters deposited on the hall-table were left there
1(54 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
some hours, awaiting Miss Bella's return from
calls or drives or strolls with her society friends
of both sexes, and that I, in search of ray own
mail, should look over the pile on the marble
slab. There was always one postmarked West
Point; there was sometimes more; and there
were no less than three separate and distinct
handwritings thus making frequent calls at our
house. In my avuncular capacity I had ventured
to say something intended to be arch with regard
to those letters. It was at the breakfast-table.
Miss Bella was pouring coffee, and doing it with
a deft and graceful turn of the wrist that showed
her slender white hand to vast advantage. For
all answer she had given me one of those search-
ing glances from under the deep lids ; looked me
squarely in the face, though a merry smile was
hovering about the corners of her rosy mouth ;
and, neither admitting nor denying the corre-
spondence, had disarmed me by a prompt inquiry
as to whether I really thought it improper for her
to hear from her cadet friends.
No one could ever call it a correspondence, for
no one ever saw Miss Bella writing, or heard of
her mailing letters to West Point or anywhere
else. Between her and her devoted papa the
closest sympath}' and alliance existed. He seemed
to take a jovial delight in Bella's fascinations.
She ruled him with a winning and imperious
sway that was delicious to see, and Uncle George
KITTY'S CONQUEST. I(j5
speedily fell into the same groove, with this
difference : she may have told her father who
her correspondents were ; she never did tell
Uncle George. What was more, Uncle George
never could find out. Despite several efforts to
win the young lady's confidence in his somewhat
bulky and blundering way. Uncle George had
had to give it up. She was impenetrable as a
And now, six years afterwards, here she reap-
peared in his life; and, if Uncle George was
not very much mistaken. Miss Bella was the
correspondent whose letter had caused Frank
Amory so much excitement and emotion that
last day in camp at Sandbrook. It was her letter
he was so eagerly awaiting now. And all this
"Well. To the neglect of other letters I sat at
the desk pondering over this maidenly missive ;
then with an eflbrt refolded and was about to
close it, when my eyes were attracted by some
lines on the outer page. Who was it who first
said that the gist of a woman's letter would al-
ways be found in the postscript ? There, on page
four of the tiny note-sheet, were the words :
" P. S. — So you have met Mr. Amory of the
cavalry, and j^ou had quite an exciting adventure,
too. Should you see him again pray remember
me to him, though it is quite possible he has
166 KITTF'S CONQDEST.
forgotten me. We were good friends during liis
' first class camp.' "
Oil, Bella Grayson ! " Pray remember me to
liim," indeed ! " Quite possible he has forgotten
me." Upon my word, young lady, this is too
much even for a long-suffering uncle. Asking
me to remember her to a young fellow with
whom she was actually in correspondence at the
time ! For a moment I was fairly indignant ; but
something of the witchery of Bella's own caress-
ins; voice and manner seemed to steal from the
folds of the tiny note. A dozen things that had
been told me of her from time to time came
floating back to my brain, and — I couldn't help
it — I began to laugh.
Once, just before his coming South, Miss Bella
had appeared before Uncle George in a state of
indignation. A young man whom he rather
liked had been one of her devotees for a month
or more, and then suddenly ceased his attentions.
Bella's eyes flashed as she half reluctantly re-
lated to Uncle George (in response to his urgent
request) the circumstances which led to the sud-
den break. " He dared to say to me that, if no
more attractive subject happened to be available,
it was his belief I would flirt with a chimney-
sweep !" and then, when Uncle George burst
into a fit of uncontrollable merriment, Miss
Bella had first flushed with indignation, then
KITTY'S CONQUEST, IQ'J
her irresistible sense of the humorous began to
get the better of her resolution to be deeply
offended, and presently she laughed too; laughed
till the tears ran down her cheeks ; laughed as
only Bella could laugh, the most musical, ring-
ing, delightful laugh ever heard ; and then, sud-
denly recollecting herself, she had pronounced
Uncle George an unfeeling wretch, and flounced
out of the room in high dudgeon.
N"ow, it is contrar}^ to all principles of story-
telling to introduce an utterly new character
towards the fag end of a narrative, but Mr.
Brandon makes no pretensions to being a story-
teller. He -can only relate things as they hap-
pened ; and never, until this stage of the game,
had his fair niece Bella appeared as a factor in
the plot so far as his knowledge went. Never-
theless, it was vividly apparent to Mr. Brandon
that now at least she was destined to become a
leading lady, a power behind the throne, whether
she appeared in person upon the boards or not.
He recalled the frequent allusions to her in the
letters that used to reach him from the North in
the days when he found time to keep up corre-
spondence with the scattered family. There was
a tone of almost tragic despair in the letters of
one of her aunts whenever Bella was the subject
under discussion. Wherever she went — and she
went pretty much everywhere — Miss Grayson
was the centre of a knot of admirers. Her sum-
168 KITTY'S CON QUEST.
mers were spent at West Point or on " the
Sound;" her winters in New York or Syracuse;
and the oddest thing about it all was that, de-
spite her great attractiveness among the heaus
of society, she retained an absolute dominion
over the hearts of a little coterie of schoolmates,
— a sextette of as bright and intelligent and at-
tractive girls as Uncle George had ever seen ;
two of them undoubted beauties ; all of them
gracious and winning; yet, as though by com-
mon and tacit understanding, when Bella ap-
peared in their midst, and the men concentrated
their attentions upon her, the others contentedly,
even approvingly, so it seemed, fell into the back-
ground. They had their own personal worship-
pers, to be sure, but they were paraded for Bella's
inspection and approval before being decided
upon. Two of the sisterhood married within a
few years of their graduation after receiving
Bella's sanction. It had even been alleged that,
involuntarily as usual, Bella had diverted the
growing admiration of one youth from a sister
to herself; but the unruffled sweetness of the
sisterly relations seemed to give the lie to that
But Bella's fascinations were not so placidly
accepted with the opposite sex. It had been a
pet theory of hers that cadets and officers were
fair game for flirtation d, Voutrance. She had
become involved in her very first visit to the
KITTY'S CONQUEST. 169
Academy in two very serious affairs ; retaining
complete mastery over her own susceptibilities,
while obtaining mastery as complete over those
of two cadet admirers who chanced to be rather
close friends. One of them, at least, had been
desperately in earnest at the outset; both of them
were before they got through; and Bella was,
or professed to be, totally incapable of believing
that they had intended more than a mere flirta-
tion. To her credit be it said, she was griev-
ously distressed when the actual truth came to
light; but her theories were in nowise shaken,
for with the following year a still more desperate
victim was at her feet, while the singed moths
of the previous season looked gloomily and sar-
donically on the throes which they had so re-
cently suffered. It was an attribute of Bella's
as marvellous as the ascendency she maintained
over her sisterhood, that even in jilting an ad-
mirer she had so sweet, sympathetic, caressing,
and self-reproachful a manner as to make the
poor devil feel that the whole thing was his own
fault, or that of his blindness ; and to send him
on his way comforted, perhaps enslaved. She
never could succeed in absolutely and definitely
disposing of a lover. New ones might come,
and did come, every season of the year. She
had them wherever she moved ; but Bella could
no more let one go than a cat could a captured
mouse, — another statement at her expense that
170 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
first excited her wrath and afterwards nearly
convulsed her by its humorous accuracy. She
would turn her back on him ; lose sight of him
to all appearances; but let him but display a
desire for freedom ; let him but make an effort
to get away from the toils ; and under the paite
de velours was an inflexible grasp that once more
stretched the victim panting at her feet.
And yet she was so winning, so plaintive, so
appealing with it all ! Volumes of pity and trust
and sympathy beamed from Bella's clear gray
eyes. Volumes of half-playful reproach and con-
dolence in the letters she would write. " Even
in bidding you go she implores you to stay," was
once said of her by an exasperated yet enthralled
victim, and Uncle George was quite ready to
And Bella was still unmarried; still careering
over the old preserves ; still maintaining, appa-
rently, her old theory that " men are deceivers
ever;" and still, to judge from recent develop-
ments, bringing down fresh victims among the
too inflammable youngsters of the battalion of
cadets. Now, was Frank Amory a victim in
good earnest, or only a narrow escape from being
one ? She wrote to him, but that proved nothing:
she wrote to a dozen, and all at the same time.
Aunt Ethel declared of her that she was writing
to two classmates an entire winter, receiving al-
most daily missives from both, and responding
KITTY'S CONQUEST. 171
when she felt disposed ; and that not until they
came to be stationed at the same post ; to occupy
the same quarters ; to make the simultaneous
discovery that each had parted with his class
ring; and, one never-to-be-forgotten day, that
each was receiving letters from the same damsel;
had either of the young fellows the faintest idea
that he was not the sole possessor of such atten-
tions. It was alleged of Bella that she could
have worn a class ring on every finger if she
chose; but whatever may have been her object
in accepting them, it was not for purposes of
self-glorification. Her most intimate friend never
knew whose rings she had; never knew how
many; and Bella's flirtations, whatever may have
been the wide-spread destruction she effected,
were subjects that never could be spoken of in
her presence. A dozen men were believed to
confide in her, and she held their confidence in-
violable. No one of them ever extracted from
her the faintest admission that she ever received
a line or an attention from any one else.
Now, what in the world was I to do ? Here
was a complication that baffled me completely.
If Mars were really smitten with my fascinating
niece, how far had it gone ? That he had been
I could readily believe ; but, whether she looked
it or not, Bella must now be older than he, and
probably had only been — involuntarily, as usual
— amusing herself with his devotions. And now
172 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
he was interested in Kitty, — of that I felt cer-
tain, — and, by Jove ! I had it. He felt himself
still bound by the old ties ; still fettered by some
real or imaginary allegiance to his West Point
afl5nity; still — " Wliy, the whole thing was plain
as A, B, C," thought I, in my masculine pro-
fundity. "Bella would not accept, could not
discard him, and here she has kept him dangling
at her beck and call ever since." I decided to
write to Bella, — oh, the bewildering idiocy of
some men ! — and I wrote forthwith.
That evening a letter winding up as follows
was on its way northward :
" Yes, I have met your friend, young Amory ;
have seen a good deal of him, in fact, and am
greatly interested in him. He strikes me as a
gallant young soldier and gentleman, and his
evident admiration for a fair young friend of
mine — an heiress, by the way — commands my
entire sympathy. I've half a mind to take you
into my confidence, Bella, for perhaps you can
dispel my perplexity. I think — mind you, I only
say I think — that the young people are quite ready
to fall in love with one another. They have been
thrown together under most romantic circum-
stances, but he has behaved very oddly of late,
and I could not but indulge in some theory as to
the cause. I have learned that he has some
young lady correspondent up North, and, know-
ing what susceptible fellows cadets are (from
KITTY'S CONQUEST. 173
your own statements), it has occurred to me that
he may have gotten into some entanglement
there from which he would now gladly escape.
Now, Bella, put on your thinking-cap. You
have heen there every summer for six or eight
years (oh !), and although much above cadets
now I fancy, you still retain your old ascendency
over the sex. You knew Amory well, probably,
and possibly he has made you a confidante of his
affairs. What young girl was there to whom he
was devoted ? Perhaps you and I can help him
out of his boyish folly and into something that
ia worth having."
"Was there ever such a colossal ass ?
That evening we dined at Moreaii's. Things
had quieted down in the city, though the troops
still remained on duty in the streets; and it was
with eager anticipation of meeting Frank Araory
that I wended my way to the tidy old restaurant
with its sanded floor, its glittering array of little
tables, and the ever-attentive waiters. Colonel
Summers and his party had not yet arrived.
Would Monsieur step up to the room and wait
their \3oming? Monsieur would; and, taking
the Evening Picayune to while away the time, Mr.
Brandon seated himself on the balcony overlook-
ing Canal Street, — busy, bustling, thronged as
usual; yet bustling in the languid, Latinized
sense of the term ; bustling in a way too unlike
our Northern business centres to justify the use
of the term. No sign of disorder or turmoil was
manifest. The banquettes on both sides were
covered with ladies and children ; the street-cars
on the esplanade were filled with passengers
going in every direction ; the booths, fruit-stands,
confectioneries were all doing a thriving busi-
ness ; the newsboys were scurrying to and fro in
their picturesque tatters screaming the head-lines
KITTYS CONQUEST. 175
of thoir evening bulletins ; carriages and cabri-
olets were rattling to and fro; the setting sun
shone hot on the glaring fa9ade of the stone
Custom-House down the street; and beyond,
across the crowded and dusty levee, dense vol-
umes of black smoke were rising from the tow-
ering chimneys of the boats even now pushing
from the shore and ploughing huskily up the
stream. All spoke of business activity and lively
trade. The mercurial spirit of the populace
seemed to have subsided to the normal level;
and the riot of yesterday was a thing of the dis-
Voices on the stairs called me into the cosey
room, and Kitty entered radiant; with her — not
Mars but Mr. Turpin; behind her, Colonel Sum-
mers and the doctor. Pauline had again decided
to remain and take tea with the landlady, but
Vinton was improving, said Harrod, who in-
stantly added an inquiry for Amory.
" He has not been here, nor have I seen hira
to-day. Have you, Mr. Turpin ?" I asked.
"No, sir. Amory and his troop were sent
up to Jeffersonville at noon, so I learned at
headquarters, and they have not come back
" Then we must go on without him," said
Harrod, and dinner was ordered forthwith.
Seated by Kitty's side, Mr. Turpin was soon
absorbed in the duty of making himself agree-
176 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
able. Evidently they had been talking of Amory
before coming in, and, whether piqued at the
latter's conduct in not yet having been to see
her, or worse, at his having been there to in-
quire for Vinton and not for her, Kitty was in
the very mood to render her new admirer's at-
tentions acceptable. She was sparkling with
animation. She was listening wath flattering
eagerness to everything he said, laughing mer-
rily at every sally ; urging him to tell more of
his cadet days and army life ; paying no heed to
any of the rest of us ; plainly, only too plainly,
bent on fascinating her infantry friend, and fas-
cination it plainly was. Mr. Turpin was head
over heels in love with her before dinner was
half over; and while we oldsters were discussing
our cigars and pousse cafi on the balcony after
that repast, they were seated on the sofa mer-
rily, intently chatting together, as firm friends
as though they had known one another from
childhood. So intent that my entrance for a
match in nowise disturbed them ; so utterly in-
tent that they never saw what I saw at once, —
Frank Amory standing at the door.
To my eager Avelcome he responded absently.
Turpin sprang up and held out his hand, which
was taken in a perfunctory sort of way, but
there was no heartiness in his reply to the cor-
dial greeting of his classmate. He bowed in a
constrained manner to Kitty, who had flushed
KITTY'S CONQUEST. 177
with surprise — ^possibly some other emotion —
when she caught sight of him ; and then with-
out further notice of either her or her com-
panion, he passed on to where Harrod was
standing at the open window, and eagerly in-
quired for Vinton, but his bearing was forced
and unnaturaL He had already dined, he said,
and had been unable to get back from Jeiferson-
ville with the troop until late, too late to accept
Colonel Summers's invitation ; so he had merely
dropped in to inquire after his captain, as he
thought we would still be here ; and now, he
said, he must hasten to the warehouse on Maga-
zine Street, as there was no telling how soon he
and his men might be needed again. "VVe urged
him to stay and make one of a party to go to the
theatre, but Mars was adamant. His refusal was
even curt. " Pray make my excuses and apolo-
gies to the ladies. Til go down through the
hall," were his parting words. And so, without
even having touched Kitty's hand or spoken a
sentence to her by way of welcome, Mr. Amory
took his leave.
Was he " miffed" because he had found Turpin
in happy tete-a-tete with her? Had he hoped to
reserve that happiness to himself; or was there
some deeper reason to account for his avoidance
of her ? Kitty evidently adopted the first-men-
tioned explanation of his conduct; ascribed his
cold salutation and sudden departure to jealousy,
178 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
— absolute jealousy, — and I am bound to say
that so far from being depressed or saddened by
bis conduct she seemed to derive additional in-
spiration or stimulant. A burning color bad
mounted to her cheeks ; ber eyes bad taken an
almost defiant sparkle; her coquetry with Turpin
became more marked than before ; and, as
though elated at the betrayal of Amory's feel-
ings, and excited by the exhibition of his
jealousy, sbe seemed in extraordinary spirits.
Turpin promptly accepted the invitation to go
to the theatre, provided he could obtain Major
Williams's permission to be absent from the
battalion during the evening, and went ofi* to
see about it forthwith, agreeing to join us at the
Royal Street lodgings in fifteen minutes. lu
less than fifteen minutes we were there. Kitty
ran blithely up-stairs to see Pauline, and then
Harrod turned to me.
" Brandon, did you notice anything wrong
with Amory to-night ?" he asked, anxiously.
" He was excited, perhaps upset, at seeing
Turpin where he was ; but why do you ask ?"
" It was something more than that, I fear. Did
you notice his eyes, his color ? Did you feel his
" He was flushed, I noticed, and I thought it
due to riding all day in the sun ; but his hand
I did not touch."
" It was burning as though with fever. Can
KITTYS CONQUEST. 179
he have been seized as Vinton was ?" said the
colonel. And for a moment we looked at one
another in silence. " You know he has been up
and around now for several nights, and exposed
all day to the heat of the sun. The extremes are
dangerous to those not accustomed to our Louisi-
ana climate, and if he had contracted any dis-
order this would bring it out. Here comes Mr.
Turpin," continued the colonel. "Let us ask
him what he observed."
Turpin joined us with his quick, springy step.
" The major says I may go," he spoke blithelj^ ;
" but is not Amory coming?"
" It was of Amory we wanted to ask you," said
Harrod. " He seemed very unlike himself tho
few minutes he was at Moreau's. Did you note
anything out of the way ?"
Turpin flushed. " Why — yes," said he, hesi-
tatingly. " He seemed a little queer — a good
deal stiff" and formal and "
"But as to his health. Do you think he is
" Wliy," said Turpin, with a sudden start, " I
had not thought of that. I ascribed his manner
to — to — well, he always was a quick, impulsive
fellow, and I thought perhaps he regarded me
as being in the way; but his hand was hot, —
hot as fire. I'm ashamed I did not think of it
And then he stopped short, for Kitty re-
180 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
entered. She walked smilingly up to Mr. Tur-
pin with extended hand.
" You can go ?" she said. " I'm so glad. How
soon must we start? Pauline is comins: down a
moment." And with Pauline's coming we forgot
for the time being our talk about Amory.
Very gentle, very lovely, looked Miss Sum-
mers as she stood answering our warm inquiries
about the major. He was so much better ; was
sleeping quietly and naturally, the nurse said ;
and the doctor was so delighted with the improve-
ment, and had let her sit for a while by the bed-
side and talk to him, though the major himself
was forbidden to talk. She was so glad we were
going to the theatre. It must be wearisome
staying around the house for us, though she
could not bear to go. And so we bade her good-
night and went on our way.
The Varieties was crowded that night, and an
admirable play was on the stage ; but my thoughts
were incessantly wandering back to Mars, to his
strange behavior, and to Bella Grayson and her
possible connection with his changed manner.
Then, too, I was worried about Harrod's theory, —
that the boy was ill. All things considered, I
could pay very little attention to what was going
on, either in the audience or on the stage. Our
seats were in the front row of the dress-circle, a
little to the right of the centre of the house ; and
during tlie intermission between the first and
KITTY'S CONQUEST. Igl
Becond acts Kitty and Turpiu bad been keeping
up an incessant cbatter, tbougb so low-toned and
semi-confidential tbat I beard notbing of wbat
was said. Tbe bouse was very full, as I say, and
many gentlemen were standing in tbe side aisles
over tbe proscenium boxes. Otbers were swarm-
ing about tbe outer row of dress-circle seats.
Otbers still were seated on tbe steps leading down
into tbe parquet. Tbe curtain rose upon tbe
second act, and Kitty, sitting next to me, witb
Turpin on ber otber side, drew back and glanced
one minute up in my face. All animation, life,
sparkle, and saucy triumpb sbe looked ; tbere
was a miscbievous cballenge in ber laugbing eyes
as tbey met mine, tben wandered off" to tbe stage.
Anotber moment and I turned to ber to wbisper
some comment upon tbe costume w^orn by one of
tbe actresses and — bow can I describe tbe cbange
tbat bad come over ber face ? Pale, startled, yes,
frigbtened. Sbe was staring across tbe parquet
towards a group of men standing in tbe outer
aisle. Following ber eyes I too looked, and
tbere, glaring at our party, witb a strange, wild,
uncanny expression on bis face, was Frank
For an instant notbing was said. Tben, invol-
untarily, I balf rose. His eyes met mine, and,
witbout a sign of recognition, be dropped back
in tbe tbrong and disappeared. " Did you see
him ?" I exclaimed to Harrod. " "Watcb ! See
182 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
where he goes ! It is Amorj, and something i&
The colonel looked at me in startled wonder-
ment, but a glance at Kitty's face seemed to bring
him coniirmation of my statement. I rose and
looked about in my excitement and anxiety, but
an indignant " Down in front !" from some half-
dozen mouths in rear brought me back to seat
and senses. Not until the close of the act could
I get out. Then, followed by Harrod, I worked
my way into the vestibule, searched the corridors,
the bar-room, the main stairway, and the broad
entrance. No sign of him. Several infantry
officers were standing there, but, in answer to
my appeal, said they had seen nothing of Lieu-
tenant Amory ; but at the gate the door-keeper
remembered a young officer going out in the
middle of the second act and declinins; a return
check. I determined to go at once to his lodg-
ings. Harrod would stay and look after Kitty
In half an hour I had reached the warehouse.
A sleepy sentinel told me that the lieutenant was
not there. He occupied a room " over beyant,"
in a large frame boarding-house. Ringing the
bell, a colored servant answered. "Would he
show me to Lieutenant Amory's room ? He
would, and we went up the main stairway and
out on a back gallery to one of those little ten by
six boxes, without which no New Orleans board-
KITTY'S CONQUEST. 183
ing-place is complete. No answer to our knock,
but the door was unlocked, and I entered and
turned up the light. There stood his trunk, open.
Papers and letters were strewn on the bureau,
and among them, almost the first to catch my
eye, was a dainty envelope addressed in that
graceful, unmistakable hand to Lieutenant Frank
Amory at Sandbrook, and forwarded thence to
ISTew Orleans. He had had another letter, then,
In answer to inquiries, the servant said that
Mr. Amory had come in " lookin' mighty tired"
late in the afternoon ; had taken a bath, dressed,
and gone out again without saying a word to
anybody, and had not been back since. Telling
him he might go, I decided to await Amory's
return. I knew not where to search for him.
It was then late. The bells of the churches
over on Camp Street and Lafayette Square were
chiming ten o'clock. All below was very quiet.
The distant roar of wheels down towards Canal
Street, and the tinkle of the mule-cars were the
only sounds that struck upon the ear. I felt
strangely worried and depressed, and sought for
something with which to occupy my thoughts and
keep me from brooding. Books there were none,
for Mars had had no time for reading since his
arrival ; paper, envelopes, some open letters were
on the bureau with her envelope, but the letter
it had contained was gone. Tossing them over
184 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
witli impatient hand, I came upon two envelopes
addressed in his vigorous hand ; one to his mother,
the otlier to Miss Isabel R. Grayson, care of
Hon. H. C. Grayson, Syracuse, New York, —
further confirmation of my theory. Then there
were some scraps of paper on which he had been
scribbling; and on one, written perhaps a dozen
times, was the name "Kittie." That was hia
way, then, of spelling it.
An hour passed by. Eleven o'clock came, and
no Amory. I could stand it no longer. Once
more I went out on Magazine Street, and over
to the warehouse. This time a corporal of the
guard met me and seemed to know me.
" No, sir. The lieutenant hasn't been in all
night, sir, and it isn't his way at all. He may
be over at headquarters. Shall I send, sir ?"
No. I decided to go myself.
Late as it was, a broad glare of light shone out
from the upper windows of the handsome brown-
stone residence, occupied at the time by the com-
manding general as the offices of himself and
the staff. The lower hall was open. I entered
and went up-stairs to the first open door. One
or two officers in undress uniform were lounging
about ; and, seeing me, Colonel Newhall sprang
up and came hastily forward, inviting me to
enter. I inquired at once for Amory, and briefly
stated that we feared he was not well. This
brought to his feet the junior aide-de-camp w^hom
KITTrS CONQUEST. 185
we had seen galloping down Cliartres Street the
" Amory was here early in the evening asking
for me," he said, " and he left this note. I can-
not understand. He seems worried about some-
I took the note and read, —
" Dear Parker : Both times I've been in to
see you to-day, you happened to be out. I must
see you. I must get a leave and go North at
once. Can you suggest any way of helping me ?
Some one must take the troop. I'll be in this
evening. Do wait for me.
" It is after eleven now and no sign of him,"
said the aide. " You say you thought he looked
" Very ill," I answered, " and I am strangely
" Sit down just a few minutes until I see the
general. Then, if possible, I'll go with you and
see if we can find him."
Perhaps ten minutes afterwards we were on
our way back to his temporary quarters, when the
aide-de-camp called out to a man whom I saw
hurrying along the opposite side of the street
under the gas-lamp, and the very corporal who
J 86 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
was on duty at the stables came springing over
" I was looking for you, sir," he said, breath-
lessly. " Did you see the lieutenant ?"
" No ; where is he ?"
" I don't know, sir. Directly after you left he
jumped off a street-car and ordered us to saddle
up. I routed out the first sergeant and the men,
but before they could get their clothes and belts
on he had leaped on his horse and galloped off
down the street like mad. We don't know what
to do, sir."
" Which way did he go ?" quickly asked the
ofiicer with me.
" Down the street, sir, towards Canal."
" Give me one of your fastest horses. Tell the
first sergeant I want to see him at once, and let
the men unsaddle again."
" What do you think it is?" I anxiously asked.
" Fever ; and he is twice as delirious as Yinton
was. We must find him at once."
That night we had a chase such as I had never
before indulged in. The aide-de-camp believed
Frank Amory to be ill with fever : — delirium in
fact, but to my knowledge delirium was unusual
as a first symptom of an ordinary Southern fever.
He might be feverish ; might indeed be ill ; but
that alone would not be apt to cause his extra-
ordinary excitement. Two or three officers at
headquarters had remarked his strange manner
and absent-minded replies, said the aide, while
he had been there early in the evening, but at
that time his face was pale rather than flushed.
At the stables on Magazine Street we again
questioned the sergeant. "Did the lieutenant
appear to be under any strong excitement?"
asked the aide-de-camp, and the sergeant eyed
him askance a moment as though he misunder-
stood the drift of the question, seeing which I
" The captain fears that Mr. Amory is seized
with just such a fever as that which prostrated
Major Yinton." "Whereat the sergeant looked
relieved, and answered, —
" I couldn't say, sir. He never spoke more
188 KITTrS CONQUEST.
than to order his horse and then go off at a
gallop. But two or three times lately at Sand-
brook he has done that, — taken his horse and
gone off riding at the dead of night. He may
be ill, sir, but I couldn't say."
This news in some way strengthened my view
of the case. The fact that he had frequently or
occasionally gone off in a similar manner went
to prove that the ailment was not a new bodily
trouble. Knowing what 1 knew and felt bound
to keep to myself, it was not hard to determine
that mental perturbations, aggravated perhaps
by recent fatigues and excitements, were at the
bottom of Amory's strange conduct. None the
less, however, I was eager to find and bring him
back. He ought not to be away from his com-
mand at such a time. Directing the sergeant to
say to Mr. Amory that we were in search of
him and begged him to wait for us on his re-
turn, the aide-de-camp and I hurried down the
street; sought a cab-stand; and, jumping into
one of the light cabriolets that were then a fea-
-ture of the New Orleans streets, we drove rap-
idly down to Vinton's quarters. I thought Amory
might have galloped thither. A dim light was
burning in the sick-room, as we could see from
the front. The door was closed and locked, but
I rang, and presently a servant came sleepily
through the hall and stared at me in mild stupe-
faction. "No. Mr. Amory hadn't been there."
KITTY'S CONQUEST. 189
I brushed past the darky and went noiselessly
up the stairs and tapped at Vinton's door. Tlie
nurse came and peered at me through the inch-
wide crack ; not a whit more would he open the
door lest the night air should be wafted in.
''"We fear that Lieutenant Amory is taken
ill," I said in a low tone. " He may come here
to see his captain. Try and get him to lie down
in Colonel Summers's room until we get back,
if he should come." The nurse nodded; said
that Vinton was sleeping quietly, and directed
me to Harrod's door. I knocked there, and it
was opened in a moment.
" What ! you, Brandon ? Anything wrong ?"
" We can't find Amory. He is on horseback
and galloping around town all by himself. They
think at headquarters that he may be ill with
fever like Vinton. Mr. Parker and I are hunt-
ing for him. K he should come here, get him
into 3^our room and make him lie down, will
" Certainly I will. But, Brandon, had not I
better go with you? Are you sure he is ill?
I thought him strange enough at Moreau's,
" I cannot say what it is," I broke in, impa-
tiently. " I must hurry ofi', as he must be found
as quickly as possible."
With that I turned away and retraced my
steps through the dimly-lighted hall. Reaching
190 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
the stairs I paused, for another door had softly
opened, and Pauline's voice, low-toned and anx-
ious, was heard.
" Harrod, what is it ?"
" Mr. Amory is ill, I'm afraid," was the reply,
and I hurried back to the street.
Eapidly we drove to the levee, and there at
the depot found Major Williams's sleeping bat-
talion. The aide sprang out and accosted a
sentry. A sergeant came with a lantern and
ushered the stafl-officer in among the snoring
groups ; for the men had thrown themselves in
their blankets upon the wooden flooring. Pres-
ently they reappeared, and with them came Mr.
Turpin, hurriedly adjusting his collar and cravat.
" Sheep always was a most excitable fellow,"
he was saying, " but this beats me. He hasn't
been here at all, and I've no idea where he can
Leaving directions what was to be done in
case he did appear, we drove away up Canal
Street. It was then nearly two o'clock, but
there were still loungers around the Cla}^ statue;
lights gleaming from one or two " open-all-
night" bars and from the cab-lanterns on St.
Charles Street. Our driver pulled up, and Mr.
Parker sprang out and exchanged a few words
with a policeman. I could not hear, but saw
that the latter pointed up the street: and the
aide came quickly back, —
KITTF'S CONQUEST. 191
"Drive on, — right out Canal, and keep a briglit
lookout for an officer on horseback," were his
orders, as we whirled away over the smooth
" That policeman says he saw a young officer
gallop out this way not ten minutes ago, and he's
been wondering ever since what was going on.
He walked up as far as Dryades Street to find
out, thinking he might have stopped at the State-
House; but all is quiet there, and the patrols
told him the officer went on out Canal, riding
Evidently, then. Mars had stopped somewhere
or had ridden elsewhere before going out towards
the swamps. We peered eagerly up and down
the dimly-lighted cross-streets as we whirled
rapidly past them. The lamps along the broad
thoroughfare grew infrequent ; the street was
deserted. Once in a while we passed a carriage-
load of revellers returning from the shell road
and a supper at the " Lake End." "Well out to-
wards the stables of the street-railway we caught
sight of another policeman ; hauled up, and
hailed him with anxious questioning, l^o, he
had seen no officer on horseback; his beat lay
along Canal Street, but he had " taken a turn
through a side street after a couple of s'picious-
lookin' parties," and might have been gone four
or five minutes. Crack ! went the whip, and we
pushed ahead. Gas-lamps now became few and
192 KITTrS CONQUEST.
far between ; open stretches of level turf or
prairie were visible here and there between the
houses or garden-walls; the moonlight was
tempered and shrouded by low-hanging clouds,
and surrounding objects were only dimly seen.
Still we whirled ahead over the smooth-beaten
road, and at last drove rapidly between the high
walls of the silent cities of the dead that bounded
the highway near the crossing of the canal. Two
or three loungers were hanging about the dimly-
lighted portico of a saloon. Mr. Parker sprang
out and made some rapid inquiries, then hurried
back to the cab.
" He crossed here nearly half an hour ago, —
went right on over the bridge," he exclaimed, as
he sprang in and told the driver to whip up.
" Turn to the right," he added. " Drive towards
Lake End. It's the only place he can have gone."
And in a moment more the wheels were whirring
over the level track ; a dense hedgerow of swamp
undergrowth on our left; the dark waters of the
canal on our right.
We passed two or three roadside hostelries,
whose enticing lights still lured the belated or
the dissipated into the ready bars. Mr. Parker
scanned them as we drove ahead.
" He never drinks a drop, I hear, and it's no
use looking for him there."
Nevertheless, our driver suddenly pulled up in
front of a lamp-lighted entrance. " There's a
KITTY'S CONQUEST. 193
couple of buggies and a horse in under that
shed," said he.
The aide-de-camp jumped out and stepped
briskly oif in the direction indicated by the
driver's hand. Our cab again pulled up. Pres-
ently he emerged from the darkness of the shed.
" It isn't Amory's horse. It's a Louisiana
pony," said he. " Wait one moment and I'll see
With that he sprang up the steps and walked
rapidly towards the glass doorways of the bar.
He was in civilian dress except for the forage-
cap, which he had hastily picked up when we
left the office. Its gold cord and crossed sabres
gleamed under the lamp as he sharply turned the
door-knob and entered the room. Even without
that cap I by this time would have known his
profession ; he had that quick, springy, nervous
walk and erect carriage so marked among the
younger West-Pointers. My eyes followed hira
until he disappeared ; so apparently did others.
From the farther end of the gallery two dark
forms rose from a sitting posture, and one of
them came tiptoeing along towards the doorway.
Our cab had halted near the steps at the end op-
posite them, and, despite our lights, the stealth-
ily-moving figure seemed to pay no attention to
us. Before I had time to conjecture what his
object could be, the man crouched before the
door, his hat pulled low over his forehead, and
I n 17
194 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
peered eagerly through the glass. Then he turned
his head ; gave a low whistle, and, almost at a
run, the second figure, in slouch hat like the first
and with overcoat pulled well up about his ears,
hurried to his side ; stooped ; peered through,
and shook his head.
" Drive up there, quick !" I said. And, as
hoof and wheel crunched through the gravel, the
pair drew suddenly back; sprang noiselessly
down the steps and in among the shrubbery
out of my sight. Almost at the same instant
Mr. Parker reappeared ; took his seat beside
me, and, before I could interpose, called out,
" Drive on, — Lake End." And away we went,
leaving the mysterious strangers in the dusk
" Amory has not been seen there, nor beyond.
There are two young sports in there who came
in from Lake End half an hour ago, but tliey are
both pretty full. The barkeeper said there were
two more gentlemen who came out from town
with another buggy earlier, but they had gone
" I saw them," answered I, " and they are bad
characters of some kind. They stole up on tip-
toe and peered after you as you went in, then
sprang back out of sight as you came out. I
wanted to tell you about them. They seemed
waiting or watching for somebody."
" Gamblers or ' cappers' probably. Fellows
KITTY'S CONQUEST. 195
wbo lie in wait for drunken men with money and
steer them into their dens, — fleece them, you
know. The streets are full of them day and
"Yes; but these men wore slouch hats and
overcoats that muffled their faces, and they
watched you so oddly. Why did they leap back
as you came out ?"
" That was odd," said Mr. Parker, thought-
fully. " Could you see nothing of their faces ?"
"Nothing at all, except that the first man had
a heavy dark moustache, and was tall and stoutly
built; the other seemed young and slight; his
face was hidden entirely."
The aide-de-camp leaned out and looked back
along the dark road ; then drew in again.
"No use to look," he said. "Even if they
were to follow I could not see ; their buggy has
no lamps, our rig has to have them. Are you
"No; I never carry anything."
" Nor I, as a rule; yet had I thought we would
come so far at this time of night I would have
brought my revolver. Not that any attack is to
be feared from those two unless there should be
a crowd at their back; otherwise we would be
three to two."
"But they are armed, and we are not."
" They think we are, all the same. The aver-
age citizen hereabouts goes prepared to shoot if
196 KITTF'S CONQUEST.
he is on a night-prowl like this. I don't know
why I asked if you were armed."
Then for some distance we rattled along in
silence. The clouds had grown heavier ; a few
heavy rain-drops had pattered in on our faces,
and the night air was damp and raw. We passed
one or two more dark houses, and then came in
view of the lights at Lake End. Here, despite
the lateness of the hour, one or two resorts seemed
still to be open and patronized. Directing the
driver to turn towards the lights on the right,
Mr. Parker again sprang out, looked in the car-
riage-shed, then into the bar-room; came out,
crossed the way, and made a similar search in a
neighboring establishment. Then I saw him
questioning a sleepy-looking stableman, and then
he came back to me. Perplexity and concern
were mingled in his face as he stood there look-
ing up at me in the glare of our lamp.
" Nobody has been here on horseback since
midnight. These are the only places open since
that hour, and now there are not more than half
a dozen people out here — roysterers after a late
supper. Where could Amory have gone? Do
you suppose he knew his way back by "Washing-
ton Avenue, and had turned to the left instead
of this way ?"
" He is an entire stranger in New Orleans, —
never was out here before in his life, — and I
don't know what to make of it."
KITTY'S CONQUEST. J 97
He looked at his watcli, retook his seat. " We
must get back to the bridge," suid he. "Driver,
stop at Gaston's, — where we were before, — and
•^ Now through the pattering rain we hurried
on our return trip, We were silent, plunged in
thought and anxiety. In some way those two
skulkers at Gaston's had become connected in
my mind with Amory's disappearance. I could
not shake off the impression, and, as though the
same train of thought were affecting my com-
panion, he suddenly spoke, —
" You say that those men followed me as I
went in, and sprang out into the shrubbery as I
"Yes; as though to avoid being seen by
He took off his forage-cap and looked disgust-
edly at it a moment.
" Confound this thing ! "Why didn't I wear
my hat?" he muttered; then turned suddenly to
me : " Mr. Brandon, when we get back to Gas
ton's let me have your hat, will you? I would
like to take another look in there, and if you
will stay in the cab, we will stop this side of the
entrance, and I'll go ahead on foot. Here, driver,
hold up a moment."
Cabby reined in his horse and turned towards
us in surprise. The aide-de-camp sprang out in
the rain and began working at the lamp.
198 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
"Don't put it out, sir; it's against orders,'*
said the driver.
"Never you mind, driver; I'll be responsible
for any row there may be over it. There is
reason for it, and a mighty good one. Douse
that glim on your side. That's right ! Now go
ahead, lively as you can, and stop just this side
Then for a while we pushed on in the dark-
ness, and nobody spoke. Finally the driver
turned, saying that Gaston's lights were near at
hand ; presently he reined up. Mr. Parker ex-
changed head-gear with me ; pulled the brim of
my roomy black felt well down over his face;
and, cautioning us in a low tone to remain where
we were, disappeared in the direction of the
It must have been long after three. I was
tired and chilled. The driver got out his gum
coat and buttoned it around him. Five — ten
minutes we waited. No sound but the dismal
patter of the rain. Full quarter of an hour
passed, it seemed to me, before I saw a lantern
coming rapidly out of the darkness in front, and
presently Mr. Parker's voice was heard.
" Come on ; drive slowly. Go right in to Gas-
ton's," and, even as he spoke, he swung in beside
me. " Had Amory any money, do you know ?"
he asked, before fairly taking his seat.
KITTY'S CONQUEST. J 99
" There is something strange about this affair
I cannot fathom. I've been talking with Gaston
and one of his men. They have been sitting up
waiting for us to get back. Those two footpads
were up to some mischief, and I'm afraid it was
Amory they were after. You will hear in a
moment. Come into the bar," he said, as the
cab stopped at the steps.
Another moment and Gaston himself had
ushered us into a little room and proceeded to
tell his tale. "We had no sooner left, he said,
than those gentlemen who came from town in
the buggy after midnight re-entered the bar,
ordered drinks, and asked Gaston to join them.
One was a big man, with a heavy moustache,
and deep-set eyes under very shaggy brows ; he
was rather poorly dressed, and had no watch.
The other was a young, dark-eyed, handsome
fellow, with dark moustache, stylish clothes, and
a fine gold watch, which he kept nervously
looking at every moment or so. The former
did all the talking; the latter paid for every-
thing they ordered both before and after our
visit. After a few ordinary remarks the big
man asked Gaston who the young officer was,
and Gaston, knowing him to be stationed in the
city and having often seen him, gave his name.
Then they wanted to know who was with him in
the cab, and " what took him off so sudden."
Gaston had seen nobody with bim, but told them
200 KlTTrS CONQUEST.
unhesitatingly that Mr. Parker was in search of
a friend, — an officer who had ridden out on
horseback. At this the men had looked sud-
denly at one another, and very soon after had
gone out, saying they believed they would drive
back, it looked like rain.
Five minutes afterwards, Louis, the hostler,
came into the bar and asked Gaston who those
men were, and, on being told that they were
strangers, had replied, " Well, they're here for
no good, and I'd like to follow them up. They
didn't see me out there in the dark, and w^ere
talking verj^ low and fast when they came for
their buggy." We called Louis in and had his
story from his own lips. He had heard their
talk, and it alarmed and puzzled him. The big
man was saying with an oath that some man they
were waiting for must be around there some-
where ; he had come across the bridge, for Gas-
ton told them the officer said so. The little man
was excited, and had answered, "Well, we've
got to tackle him ; but don't you drive into any
light." With that and some more talk they had
got into the buggy and had driven rapidly off
towards the Canal Street bridge.
" How long ago ?" asked Mr. Parker.
" Full half an hour," was the answer.
" Then we had better start at once," said the
aide to me. " What other placets are there near
here that would be open now, Gaston ?"
KITTY'S CONQUEST. 201
" None at all. I'd have been shut long ago but
for this aftair. There are one or two saloons
near the bridge and the Metairie track, but none
would be open this late."
Thanking them for their information, and
promising to let them know if anything resulted,
we hurried out to the cab and told the driver to go
to the bridge. We were both more than anxious
by this time, and were unable to account for the
strange proceedings in any satisfactory manner.
The rain seemed to have held up for a few
moments, and the veil of clouds thrown over the
face of the moon had perceptibly thinned, so that
a faint, wan light fell upon roadway, swamp, and
canal. The lamps at the crossing burned with a
yellowish glare. No one was visible around the
bridge or the buildings at the city end, — no one
from whom we could obtain information as to
the movements of Amory or of the two strangers.
" There are one or two places over here on the
upper side I mean to have a look at," said Mr.
Parker, " and if no one is there, Amory must
have gone back to town."
We had turned to the right, towards Lake
Pontchartrain, on coming out. Now the driver
was directed to go to the other side. Parker
kept peering out into the darkness, and presently
the driver said, —
" I think there's a light in there at Qaffney's."
" Hold up, then," said the aide. " Now, Mr.
202 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
Brandon, lend me your hat again : I'm going to
hunt through one or two sheds hereabouts for
that huggy. I may be gone ten or twelve minutes.
You get the cab into this little side alley here and
wait. Those men will be on the watch for our
lamps if they are still here, but I can crawl up
on them by keeping the cab out of sight."
The side alley proved to be a lane leading
through the tall hedge of swampy vegetation. I
could not see where it led to, but the driver said
it only ran out a few hundred feet to some barns
that lay near the old Metairie track. He drove
in, hovi^ever, and halted the cab close under the
hedge on one side. Too nervous to sit still, I got
out and walked back to the main road, where
the buildings of Gaffney's place could be seen.
There was, as the driver had said, a dim light,
but it seemed to be in one of the rear rooms.
For five minutes all was silent. Then, far up
the road, I thought I heard the beat of horses'
hoofs coming on at a jog-trot. Listening in-
tently, I soon was assured. Nothing could be
seen along the dark shadow of the hedgerow ;
the light was too feeble to point out objects in the
road; but every moment, more and more dis-
tinctly, I heard what I felt certain to be a horse
and buggy coming towards us. Then all of a
sudden the sound ceased.
The approach to Gaifney's was a semicircular
Bweep of shell road leading from the main high-
KITTTS CONqUEST. 203
way to the galleries of the saloon. There was
probably a distance of a hundred yards between
the two entrances. I was standing at the north-
ern end. That buggy had evidently stopped at
or very near the other. I almost fancied I could
see it. Now, had Parker heard it coming?
Waiting a moment more in breathless expec-
tancy, I suddenly heard, as though from the
shrubbery in front of Gaffhey's, low, prolonged,
and clear, a whistle. My nerves leaped with
sudden start. The same odd thrill of tremulous
excitement seized me that had so mastered me that
strange night in the old plantation home at Sand-
brook. It was for all the world like the signal-
whistle that had so roused me that night, only
very much softer. Could it have been from Mr.
Parker ? Whether it was or no he would prob-
ably need me now. I crept into the shadow of
the hedgerow and, on tiptoe, hastened up the
curve towards the gallery. A dim figure was
standing at the end of the house peering towards
the other entrance, — a figure that held out a
warning hand, and I stole noiselessly up beside
it, my heart beating like a trip-hammer. It was
" Quiet," he whispered ; " I think we have
treed our buggy friends."
" The buggy is out there on the road," I an-
" It was, but that whistle will bring it in here.
204 KITTY'S CONQUEST
There stands the big man just at the other end
of the gallery. He cannot see us ; he is looking
the other way. Follow me across into the shrub-
bery and we will get up near him. I'm bound
to hear what devilment they are up to."
With that he sprang lightly across. I fol-
lowed ; and, crouching noiselessly along the soft
grass, we stole through the low trees and bushes
until nearly opposite the southern end of the
gallery. Almost at the same instant the buggy
came driving up the turn, and a voice uttered an
impatient " Whoa !"
" What have you seen ?" queried the party in
the buggy in a low, agitated voice, — a voice I
knew I had heard before, and instinctively
reached forth my hand and placed it on my
" Seen ! Not a d — d thing. Your blue-bellied
skunk has been too smart for you, Cap. He not
only hasn't come himself, but he's got his friends
out here on your track."
*' He has come, I tell you," answered the first
speaker. " You know yourself they were asking
for him at Gaston's, and that fellow at the bridge
told you he saw him ride across."
" Then where'd he go to ?" said the other,
sulkily and savagely. " No man passed Gaston's
on horseback, I can swear to that; and if he
came at all as far as the bridge, why didn't he
come the rest of the way ? Where did he go ?
KITTY'S CONQUEST. 205
H jw did he get back ? Are you sure you wrote
plain directions ?"
" Plain ! Of course I did. I wrote turn to-
wards the lake, to the south, after crossing the
bridge, and he'd find me; and so he would,
d — n him !" added the younger man between
his teeth. His voice was growing more and
more familiar to me every moment in its sulky,
" But you said he was a stranger here. How
was he to know where the lake lay ?"
" Suppose he didn't ! I told him to turn south.
Any man knows north from^ south I reckon.
Perhaps the white-livered sneak was a Yank at
bottom, and lost his nerve."
" Tain't likely. Not from what I seen of him.
His kind don't scare so d — d easy at yours, and
he came out here to find you, you bet. Why
didn't you say turn to the right instead of south ?
Damfino which is north or south here anyhow.
How was he to know ?"
" Don't be a fool !" said the other, impatiently,
" everybody knows the river runs north and
south, and Canal Street runs out right angles to
the river, and you turn to the right to go to the
lake. It must be south."
Here I couldn't help nudging my neighbor,
the aide, who was chuckling with delight at this
" "Well, by Gawd ! you may know more 'bout
206 KITTY'S CONqUEST.
it than I do ; but when I got oft' that boat yester-
day morning up there by Julia Street, d — n me
if the sun wasn't rising in the west then, — over
there across Algiers, — and if the Yank is no
better posted on the points of the compass than
I am, strikes me he's slipped out of your trap easy
" You mean he's gone to the left — past here ?"
asked the other, snarlingly.
" Just that. He's taken the turn to the lett.
None of these places this side have been open
since we came out; and seeing no one, he's kept
on, and probably got back to town some other
way. Like enough he's in bed and asleep by
this time, and here we've been fooling away the
Chilled as I was, trembling 'twixt cold and
excitement, I was beginning to enjoy this con-
versation hugely. More than that, both the aide
and myself were beginning to feel assured that
Amory was safe.
•' Then all we can do is go back," said the
young man in the buggy, after a moment of
silence. "But I'll get that fellow yet," he added,
with a torrent of blasphemy. " Get in."
" Where's that flask of yours?" asked the man
on the steps. " I want a drink."
" Get in first and I'll give it to you."
Then we heard the creaking of the springs,
and the dim, shadowy form of the big man lum-
KITTY'S CONQUEST. 207
bered into the light vehicle. A gurgle and a
long-drawn " ah-h-h" followed, then, —
"Got a cigar?"
" Yes ; but hadn't we better wait until we get
back on Canal Street before lighting them ? We
want to look out for those other fellows in that
oab, you know."
" Oh, d — n them ! You can see their lamps
half a mile off. Here, give us a match."
Another minute and a feeble glare illuminated
the dark interior. Pale and blue at first, it
speedily gained strength and lighting power.
Eagerly we scanned the two faces, now for one
never-to-be-forgotten instant revealed to our gaze.
One lowering, heavy-browed, coarse, and bearded ;
the other — ah, well I knew I had heard that
voice, for there, half mufiled in the heavy coat,
naif shrouded by the slouching hat, were the
pale, clear-cut, dissipated features I had marked
so keenly at Sandbrook. It was the face of Ned
CHAPTER XIV. ^
Another minute the match, spluttering in thw
damp night air, was extinguished; but I had seen
enough. To the amaze of my companion, to the
scandal of any legal or professional education I
might have had, indignation got the better of all
discretion, and 1 burst through the shrubbery
and laid my hand on the rein.
"Mr. Peyton, I believe," said I, in a tone
intended to be double-shotted with sarcasm.
"Think we had the pleasure of meeting at
" Hell !" hissed a startled voice. " Quick, —
drive on !" Crack ! went the whip ; the horse
plunged violently forward ; the wheel struck me
full on the left leg and hurled me against the
stout branches of some dripping bush, and with
a whirr of wheels and crushing of gravel the
buggy disappeared in the darkness. Mr. Parker
ran to my assistance, and together we rushed to
our own cab.
" Follow that buggy ! Be lively !" was all I
could find breath to say to our driver, and then
we were ofi* in pursuit. We heard their hoofa
KITTY'S CONQUEST. 209
and wheels thundering over the bayou bridge,
and saw their light vehicle flash under the lamps
at the Canal Street end, and that was the last we
ever did see of them. Our old horse with his
heavy load was no match for theirs. Long be-
fore we reached the open road beyond the ceme-
teries, they were spinning along hundreds of
yards out of sight ahead, and gaining at every
stride. In hurried words I told the aide-de-camp
who the youth was and what I knew about him,
and, like myself, he was eager to overhaul him ;
but it was useless. Not a trace could we find of
the precious pair as we drove in town. Day was
breaking, and all our thoughts now turned to
Amory. Where was he, and how had he escaped
the trap ?
In the cold, misty dawn we reined up at the
Magazine Street warehouse. The sentry, with
his head wrapped in the cape of his overcoat,
called out the corporal of the guard, and of him
we eagerly inquired. Yes. The lieutenant had
returned, about an hour ago, his horse covered
with mud and much " blown." The lieutenant
seemed to have a chill, and had gone right to his
room. Thither we followed, and noiselessly
ascending the stairs, made our way out to the
gallery. A dim light burned in the window;
the door was half open, and by the bedside sat a
soldier, who at sight of Mr. Parker rose and
210 KITTrS CONqUEST.
" What has been the matter, orderly ?" asked
the aide-de-camp, in a whisper.
" I don't quite know, sir. Lieutenant Amor^
came home with a bad chill about an hour ago,
and quick as he dismounted I came over with
him, and he took some quinine and got to bed.
He's just gone to sleep. He hasn't been to bed
for forty-eight hours, sir, and must be used up."
We stepped forward and bent over him. He
bad removed his heavy riding-boots and trousers ;
his cavalry jacket was thrown on the chair at the
foot of the bed ; and, muffled up in blankets, he
lay there, sleeping heavily yet uneasily. He
moaned in his slumber, and threw himself rest-
lessly on the other side as we raised the light to
see his face. Placing my hand lightly on his
forehead, I found it burning ; so were his cheeks,
his hands. Fever had certainly set in after his
chill, but of how severe a character we could not
judge, and it would never do to awaken him
We stepped out on the landing, and after a brief
consultation, decided that Parker should find the
attending surgeon and send him to us as soon
as possible. Meantime, I would remain with
In less than an hour the doctor arrived. Very
thoroughly, yet very gently, he examined his
patient as to pulse and temperature; closely
scrutinized his face, and then replaced the bed-
clothing that in his fevered tossing Amory had
KITTY'S CONQUEST. 211
thrown off. Seeing the anxiety in my eyes, he
" Very feverish, and probably quite ilL You
did right not to wake him. He will not sleep
long, and every little helps. I will stay for the
present, and be with him when he does wake, for
until then I cannot really judge of his condition.
What a night you have had of it, Mr. Brandon !
Parker has been telling me something of it."
I glanced half reproachfully at Parker. We
had agreed to keep the thing to ourselves until I
could see Harrod and consult with him. But the
aide promptly relieved me of any misapprehen-
sion. He had " named no names," nor had he
spoken of the part played by Peyton. Then, at
the doctor's suggestion, we withdrew, to seek such
rest as we could find after our night in the rain.
Leaving Parker at headquarters, with the promise
to meet him late in the afternoon, I went to my
own rooms, gave my suspicious-looking landlady
directions that I was not to be disturbed until
noon, and, tired out, slept until after two o'clock.
When I opened my eyes, Harrod Summers
rose from an easy-chair in the sitting-room, and
came forward to greet me with outstretched hand.
One glance at his face showed that he had some-
thing of lively interest to tell me, and as I sat
up half sleepily in bed and answered his query
as to whether I felt rested or any the worse for
the night's adventures, I could see plainly that
212 KITTY'S CONQUEST
there was some matter that worried him, and
divined quite readily that he wanted to speak
with me. It all came out while I was shaving
and dressing, and, dovetailed with what was al-
ready known to Mr. Parker and myself, " a very
pretty quarrel" as it stood was unfolded to my
It seems that on leaving the theatre the night
previous. Colonel Summers had stepped ahead
of Kitty and her friend. Lieutenant Turpin, and
was searching for me. Seeing nothing of me in
the crowd around the entrance, he looked in at
one or two resorts along Canal Street, thinking
it possible that he might meet some officers who
could tell him of Amory's movements, and so
enable him to judge of mine. Meantime, Tur-
pin and Kitty strolled homeward, arm in arm.
On reaching the Clay statue, Harrod decided to
search no farther, but to go home, feeling sure
that if anything were wrong I would follow him
thither. At the house Pauline met him with
anxious inquiry. Had he seen or heard any-
thing of Mr. Amory? Kitty had returned ten
or fifteen minutes before ; had bidden Mr. Tur-
pin a very abrupt good-night, and excused her-
self on the plea of fatigue and headache; and
Pauline, following her to her room, found her
very pale and nervous, and learned from her that
Amory had been at the theatre, looking " so
strangely" she thought he was ill ; and, as tlicv
KITTrS CONQUEST. 213
came down the street, two men in a buggy drove
up close beside them, and leaned out and stared
at them. She was utterly upset by Araory's ap-
pearance, perhaps, and thinking of him, did not
notice this performance until Mr. Turpin sud-
denly dropped her arm and strode fiercely to-
wards the buggy, as though to demand the
meaning of the conduct of its occupants ; where-
upon they had whipped up and dashed off around
the first corner; and one of them — though his
hat and coat-collar concealed his face — one of
them looked, she said, strangely like ITed Pey-
ton. Pauline, seeing her nervousness and fright,
had soothed her with arguments as to the impos-
sibility of Peyton's being there; but she very
anxiously spoke of the matter to Harrod. Then,
after we had made our midnight visit, Kitty, in
her loose wrapper, white as a sheet and trem-
bling with dread and excitement, had stolen to
Pauline's room. Her own window overlooked
the balcony and the street, and unable to sleep,
as she told Pauline, she was lying wide awake,
when she heard rapid hoof-beats on the pave-
ment coming from Canal Street, — a horse at
rapid trot, but with no sound of wheels in com-
pany, and the horse halted before their door.
Unable to restrain her curiosity or anxiety, she
had risen, stolen to the window, and peered out
through the slats of the blind. A gas-lamp threw
its light upon the street in front, and there,
214 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
plainly illumined by its glare, sat Frank Amory
in tlie saddle, gazing up at her window. She
turned instantly, she knew not why, and stepped
back. He could not have seen her, yet, in an-
other moment, rapidly as he came, he rode away,
turned to the left at the corner, and she heard
his hoof-beats dying away in the direction of
Dauphin Street. That was all, until we came,
and not until I had gone had she courage to
creep over to Pauline and tell her what she had
Eai'ly in the morning Harrod had gone to
headquarters; found Amory's address, and on
going thither was told by a soldier that the lieu-
tenant was too ill to see anybody. But, on send-
ing up his name, the doctor and Mr. Parker came
down, and from them he learned that Amory
had a sharp attack of fever; nothing like as
serious as Vinton's, and one that would soon
yield to treatment, provided nothing else went
wrong. " There has been some sore trouble or
anxiety which has been telling upon Amory,"
said the doctor, " and that complicates matters
somewhat. He mat/ have had some delirium last
night, but not enough to cause such a freak as
an all-night gallop. In fact, Parker has con-
fided to me that Mr. Brandon and himself know
something of the matter, and that they mean to
have a talk with you."
" And that," said Harrod, " is what brought
KITTTS CONQUEST. 215
rae here four hours ago, though I had the grace
not to disturb jou. Now, what is it ? What do
you know ? Has that young cub Peyton been at
the bottom of this ?"
And then I told Harrod the story of our night's
adventures. He listened at first with composure ;
but when it came to the description of the two
skulkers at Gaston's and the conversation I had
overheard, he rose excitedly and began pacing
rapidly up and down the room, tugging fiercely
at his moustache. Every now and then some
muttered anathema fell from his lips. He was
evidently powerfully and unpleasantly moved,
and when at last my prolix recital was brought
to an end with the discovery of Peyton, and our
fruitless chase, Harrod burst out into genuine
" The doubly damned young scoundrel !" he
groaned. " Why, Brandon, I believe there is
no cowardly villainy of which that fellow is not
capable, I ought to have gone with you. I knew
I ought to have gone."
" my so ?"
*' Then we could have secured him by this
time. It is too late now, I fear. He is oflF for
Havana or Mexico."
"But what good would that have done? What
could we prove? What would you want him
secured for now that we have Amory safe and
warned against him in the future ? You would
216 KITTrS CONQUEST.
not care to have the thing made public, would
" Not if thai were all ! By heaven ! the easiest
solution of the whole thing would be to let him
try to trap Amory once more, and let Amory
know all that — that we both know."
" Do you mean that he has been at other mis-
chief than this mysterious attempt at Amory ?"
" Yes. We thought him safely out of the
■vvay, — in Cuba. He was there, but must have
come directly to this point when he heard of the
verdict in those Ku-Klux cases. You know they
acquitted Smith. No jury could be found that
dared do otherwise, I suppose," he added
" I knew that, of course ; but why should that
bring Peyton here ?"
"He had to leave Havana, Brandon. Don't
you remember father's anxiety at Sandbrook be-
fore we came away ? and what he said about its
perhaps being too late for any eifort on his part ?
I was to have told you, but I couldn't bear to just
yet. Wliy, that damned scoundrel forged father's
signature to a large draft, and got the money
there where the bankers knew them both. It
was only discovered here in New Orleans when
the draft came to the Hibernia, and as the loss
comes on these old correspondents of father's in
Havana, he feels bound to see them reimbursed,
for he cannot bear the thought of disgrace to his
KiTTrs cjNquEsr. 217
uame or that of a kinsman. By Peyton's arrest
we might secure part of the money. Tiiat is all,
for he has taken every cent father had in the
" Then the sooner we get to the chief of police
and acquaint him with Peyton's movements and
description the better it will be," said I, who felt
no scruples whatever against bringing master
Ned to the bar of justice.
" It's too late, Brandon, I'm afraid. He saw
Amory yesterday and Kitty last night ; he knows
by this time we are here, and he is miles away.
Father had telegraphed at once that he would
refund the amount of Peyton's forged raise, and
so suspended pursuit or arrest. Peyton of course
has heard of this or he would not have ventured
hither in the first place ; but he well knows that
with me here it is no place for him. "We will
go, of course, and start the detectives, but I fear
we have lost him. Do you think Amory can see
us this evening and tell us what he knows of
this affair ?"
" "We must see him, unless the doctor prohibits
it ; but come first to the City Hall," said I. And
as we rode thither in a street-car, both deeply
engrossed in thought, Harrod turned suddenly
towards me, —
"Brandon, this is the most extraordinary
piece of cross-purposes to me. For three weeks —
for a month past, Frank Amory has been a mys-
218 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
tery. W^e all thought him growing very fond of
Kitty, and after the affair on the Tennessee,
where he was hurt, she seemed very much in-
terested in him. Now for nearly a month he
has avoided her, and she thinks that — well, she
gave me a message for him the night we started,
which virtually begged his forgiveness for some-
thing she had said or done to wound him. She
would never have sent it if she did not believe
he cared for her. Of course I have never de-
livered it, because she was here to speak for her-
self, and told me not to ; but he has treated her
with something like aversion, and she resents it,
and now she's flirting with young Turpin, and
then there will be more trouble. Great heavens !
what a world of misunderstandings it is !" And
Harrod laughed despite his anxiety.
Having some inkling by this time as to the
secret of AmoryJ^s hesitancy and strange conduct
towards Kitty, I told Harrod that a solution of
the matter had occurred to me. There was an
explanation, I believed, and a satisfactory one,
and it would appear very shortly I thought. This,
in profound wisdom and some mystery of man-
ner, I imparted to the perplexed colonel. He
gazed at me in bewilderment, but was polite
enough to press the matter no further.
" A few days will straighten that matter," said
I. " We will see when he is well enough to be
about again." And in my purblind idiocy I
KITTY'S CONQUEST. 219
really fancied that letter of mine to Bella Gray-
son was going to settle ev^erytliing.
Our visit at police headquarters was brief and
not particularly satisfactory. It was already past
steamer time for both Havana and Vera Cruz.
If Peyton were " wanted," a telegram to the
quarantine station, with his full description, might
establish whether or no he was on board ; but
there were no officers there to make the arrest,
and an arrest was not wanted in any event, — it
was the recovery of the money. If he had not
left town it was just barely possible they might
nab him ; but dozens of river boats left New Or-
leans for a dozen different points every evening,
and there were hundreds of hiding-places in the
city itself. He would try, said the chief, and one
or two solemn-looking men in civilian's dress
came in at his call and listened attentively to our
description of Peyton and his companion ; but,
one and all, they said they would like to hear
Lieutenant Amory's account of what he had had
to do with the pair. So, taking one of the de-
tectives, we drove up to Amory's lodging.
The doctor was there and came down to meet
us. I told him our dilemma, and asked it it
were possible to hear Amory's story. He looked
grave for a moment, and considered well before
"You might see him, Mr. Brandon, if that
will do. I would much rather he did not talk
220 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
until to-morrow, but if there be an emergency,
why, he can stand it. He is doing well, has slept
well since his medicine began to take hold this
morning, and now he's awake and inclined to be
fretful. Something worries him, and perhaps it
may be a benefit to see you."
So Harrod and the detective waited, while I
went up to interview Mars.
Bless the boy's face ! It brightened so at sight
of me that I felt like an uncle towards him. He
was very pale, rather feeble, but eagerly grasped
my hand and welcomed me.
" Mr. Brandon has come to see you on busi-
ness of some importance, Mr. Amory," said the
doctor, " and you can talk with him, but talk as
little as possible. We want to get you up and
ready to travel, if you are bound to go iN'orth, so
quiet will be necessary for a day or two."
With that he vanished, taking the nurse with
him. Then I told Amory that Parker and I had
been in search of him late at night, and fearing
he was taken ill, as Vinton had been, we trailed
him out to the shell road, and there came upon
Peyton and a burly stranger, from whose con-
versation we found they were lying in wait for
him. The moment they were discovered they
drove off in a hurry. Could he give any clue
by which we could find them ? Peyton was
" wanted" for a grave crime.
" What ?" asked Amory, flushing, and excited.
KITTrS CONQUEST. 221
"Forgery," I answered. "Now let me be
brief as possible, Amory. I hate to excite you
at such a time. Have you any idea where he is
to-day, or who the other man is ?"
" ]^one whatever."
" Tell me, quietly as you can, how you came
to go out there alone on horseback last night.
Were you ill then ?"
" jSTot so ill but that I knew what I was about.
I had had some fever all day, probably, and —
and was worried about something, — a letter from
mother. She wants me to come IS^orth at once,
and I would have gone but for this. Perhaps it
worked on me a good deal. It was late when
we got back from Jeffersonville. I w^rote a note
to Parker, and left it at headquarters, and went
on down-town, hoping to see Vinton, and in-
tending to dine with you at Moreau's. I did not
feel well, but I wanted to see you. Right there
by the City Hotel a passing cab splashed me
with mud, and I turned into the barber-shop to
have it rubbed off. Quite a number of men
were in there, talking a good deal, and seemed
to have been drinking, but I paid no particular
attention to them, until just as I was leaving one
of them said, ' There's the d Yank now,
Peyton. What better chance do you want ?' Of
course I turned quickly and went right up to the
fellow. One or two others sprang forward. Some
one said, ' Shut up, you fool !' but it was too late.
222 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
The man was drunk, probably, and having put
his foot in it, had bravado enough not to back
out entirely. He was in one of the chairs, his
face covered with lather, and as I inquired if he
referred to me, he replied, with drunken gravity,
that his friend, Mr. Peyton, had expressed a de-
sire to meet me, and ' there he was.' Sure enough
there was young Peyton, stepping out from be-
tween the chairs to his right, his face black as
thunder. I was mad as a hornet, of course, and
never stopped to think. ' Are you responsible
for this gentleman's language ?' said I. ' Just as
you please,' said he ; and with that I struck him
full under the jaw, and knocked him back among
the shaving-cups and bottles. Of course there
was a terrible row. He drew his pistol, but it
was yanked out of his hand by some stranger.
A dozen men jumped in and separated us. I
didn't know one of them, but they seemed bent
on having fair play. He raved about satisfac-
tion, and I said any time and any place. Then
a gentlemanly-speaking fellow suggested that the
friends or seconds meet at the Cosmopolitan, at
ten o'clock ; that would give plenty of time, and
obviate any trouble there. And before I fully
realized the situation it was agreed that we were
to settle the thing according to the code, and
our friends were "to meet at ten o'clock, "With
that he was led off, and I went out to think the
matter over. Of course there was nothing to do
KITTY'S CONQUEST. 223
but fight. I had knocked him down and was
hound to give him satisfaction. But this was no
cadet fisticuff; it was a serious matter, and I
needed a friend. Of course it ought to be an
oflicer, and now that Vinton was ill, I had no
one with whom to advise. I went down to the
depot to find Turpin. He was a classmate, and
the very fellow to back me ; but Turpin wasn't
there. I went to Moreau's in search of him,
and — well, he was busy, and I couldn't ask him.
Then I went up to headquarters for Parker. He
was years ahead of me at the Point, but I knew
he would see me through ; but Parker was out.
He lived way up-town, and when I got there
they told me he had gone to the theatre. That
is what brought me to the Varieties. It was get-
ting late, and I had nobody to act for me. All
those infantry fellows were strangers, and at ten
o'clock I had to go to the Cosmopolitan myself.
Not a soul was there whom I knew, though one
or two men dropped in who looked curiously at
me, and whom I thought I had seen during the
" It was nearly eleven o'clock, and I was well-
nigh crazy with excitement and nervousness,
fearing that I had made some mistake, and they
could say I shirked the meeting. But just about
eleven a man came in, who looked closely at me,
said 'Captain Amory?' and handed me a note.
There's the note, Mr. Brandon ; read it."
224 KITTV'S CONQUEST.
Read it I did. It was as follows :
"LiEUTKNANT F. Amort, U.S.A.:
" Sir, — In some way for which we find it impossible to ac-
count, the authorities have got wind of our affair, and threat-
ened me with arrest ; but I learn from a friend that you are
at the Cosmopolitan unattended. The gentlemen who were
present at the time of your outrageous affront this afternoon
were total strangers to me, with one exception, but I cannot
believe that they have betrayed me to the police.
" As an officer you must be aware that there can be only
one reparation for a blow, and, if a gentleman, you cannot
refuse it. You said you would meet me any time and any
place, and I hold you to your word. I demand instant satis-
faction, before the police can interfere, and there is one place
where, if alone, we can be sure of quiet. That is a shooting-
and fencing-gallery on the shell road, where there is a room
where gentlemen can settle such affairs with swords, and
where every attention is paid and inviolable secrecy observed.
" Leaving my friend here with the policeman who is
watching our rooms, I shall slip out by the back way and go
out on horseback. If you are a man of honor you will follow.
Keep on out Canal Street to the end, cross the canal on the
bridge, and then turn to the south. I will watch for your
horse and conduct you to the spot. The bearer of this will
bring a verbal answer, all that is necessary. Reminding you
once more of the outrage you have committed upon a gentle-
man, and of your promise to render full satisfaction at such
time and place as I should demand, I am, with due respect,
" Yours, etc.,
"Edward Harrod Peyton."
I read it througli twice before speaking, Amory
narrowly watching my face.
" And do you mean to tell me, Frank Amory,
that you could be led into a snare by such a
KITTF'S CONQUEST. 225
transparent piece of rascality as that ?" I asked
" How should I know ?" said Amory, flushing.
" The letter reads straight enough. The barbers
or somebody might have told the police, and I
knew only that Mr. Peyton was a relative of
gentlemen and supposed him to be a gentleman.
Of course I went."
" All the young scoundrel wanted was to get
you there alone and unarmed, and then turn you
over to that great bully he had for a terrible
beating. He would never dare fight you fairly.
This thing is a fraud on its face ; no Southern
gentleman would ask such a thing of a stranger
as a midnight meeting without seconds in an un-
known spot. Why, Amory, it is absurd, and as
I tell you, and as their talk proved, he only wanted
to lure you there and see you brutally pounded
and mutilated. The scoundrel knew he must
leave town at once, and, hating you, he wanted
this low revenge first."
" "Why should he hate me ?" asked Amory.
" Because of your fight with those villains of
Hank Smith's last December, for one thing. He
was hand in glove with them all. Because of —
well, another reason occurs to me that need not
be spoken of just now. I ought not to let you
talk so much as it is. Tell me one thing, how-
ever. You are anxious to go North, the doctor
says. Can I serve you in any way ?"
226 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
Amory hesitated. " Mother is very anxious
that I should come, if possible," he faltered ; " and
she is right. There — there are reasons why I
ought to go and settle a matter that has given
me much distress. I told her of it, and she
writes that only one course is open to me."
And the deep dejection and trouble in his face
upset me completely.
" Youngster," said I, impulsively. " Forgive
me if I appear to intrude in your affairs, but you
have become very near to me, if you know what
I mean, in the last few months. We have learned
to regard you as something more than a friend,
the Summers' and I, and lately it seems to me
that an inkling of your trouble has been made
known to me (who would have said, ' I have been
prying into your affairs?') — and — Frank, don't
worry if it is about Bella Grayson. She is my
own niece, — you may not know, — and I had a
letter from her the other day."
Amory almost started up in bed (capital
nurse Mr. G. S. Brandon would make for a fever
patient ordinarily, you are probably thinking),
but thougli his eyes were full of eager inquiry
and astonishment, he choked back the question
that seemed to rise to his lips and simply stared
at me, then with flushing cheeks turned quickly
" I cannot explain just now ; try and be content
with what I tell you for a day or two," I went
KITTY'S CONQUEST. 227
on. " You can hear more when you are better.
One thing I want to ask you for the benefit of the
detectives who are looking for Peyton. How do
you suppose you were so fortunate as to escape
missing him and the other blackguard? "We
found them just below the bridge to the right."
" I don't know," was the weary reply. " Things
were all in a whirl after I got that note. I re-
member telling that fellow to say that I would be
there without fail. Then it took some time to
hurry up here and get my horse, and to write a
line to mother; then I did not go straight out
Canal Street. There were one or two things that
had to be done ; but I rode like the devil to get
there, and there wasn't a soul that I could see
anywhere around the far end of the bridge."
"But didn't you go down towards the lake, —
to the right hand, I mean ?"
" To the right ? No, of course not," said
Amory. " He said to the south ; look at the note
again and you'll find it; and I had that little
compass there on my watch-chain. South was
to the left, man, and, — why, it seems to me I
rode all night; found myself in town and rode
back to the swamps ; then gave it up and came
home somehow; I don't know. It was all a
Then, fortunately, the doctor came back, and,
with one glance at Amory's face, motioned to me
that enough or more than enough had been said.
228 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
I bent over Amory and said, with the best inten-
tions in the world of being reassuring, " Re-
member, do not fret about going North or about
anything else of that kind ; thai is coming out
all right." And with the profound conviction
that it was coming out all right through his min-
istration, the recorder of this curious tangle took
Two daj^s elapsed and Frank Amory failed to
get better with the rapidity so slight an attack
of fever should have permitted ; and when it is
considered that my language had been, or ought
to have been, very reassuring as regarded his
other troubles, there seemed to me small warrant
for the doctor's ascribing his slow rally to mental
perturbations. It was beginning to dawn upon
me that the doctor looked upon me as something
of a sick-room nuisance ever since my interview
with his patient about Peyton, and that only his
politeness prevented his saying that that inter-
view had been a decided set-back. At all events,
two days passed without my again seeing Mars.
He was sleeping when I called, or had had a rest-
less night, and was not to be disturbed. Yet
Parker saw him twice, and brought favor-
able accounts; he seemed to have the luck of
getting around at times when Amory was awake,
and, being a cavalryman himself, the aide-de-
camp had taken charge of the troop and was
able to bear Aiiiory daily bulletins of its well-
doing. Vinton was rapidly improving and able
to sit up a few moments each day. Pauline was
230 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
radiant with hope and love ; and Kitty — whom
I had not seen for nearly two days, when we met
again at Moreau's — Kitty once more looked pale,
anxious, and wistful; I saw it the instant her
eyes met mine.
Harrod told me that he had seen fit to say
nothing to her of Peyton's latest escapade. It
would not help matters at all and could only
cause her distress. Pauline had heen told in
confidence, and he himself had written full par-
ticulars to the judge. The police had made no
arrests or discoveries ; hut twice I had received
visits from members of the detective force ask-
ing for further description of the burly man who
was with Peyton the night of the chase. The
younger man, they seemed to think, had got
away to Texas, but for some reason they seemed
hopeful of catching the other party, who was
apparently " wanted" for something for which
he could properly be held.
It was two nights after the theatre party, and
once again we were dining at Moreau's ; this
time reinforced by Pauline and by Major "Wil-
liams. It was a lovely evening in the early
spring. Already the breezes from the South
were freighted with the faint, sweet fragrance
of the orange-blossoms; windows \yere thrown
open, and four of us at least were placidly en-
joying the spirited scene on the street below.
Pauline and the major were in the midst of a
KITTrS CONQUEST. 231
pleasant chat; Harrod and I dreamily puffing
at our cigars; and over on the sofa Kitty and
her now absolutely enslaved Turpin were oblivi-
ous to all other objects. He, poor fellow, was
bending towards her, his whole soul in his eyes,
his whole heart on his lips ; speaking in low
tones, eagerly, impetuously. She, with feverish
flush on her soft cheeks, her eyes veiled by their
white lids and fringed with their sweeping lashes,
was nervously toying with her gloves, yet listen-
ing, painfully listening. Harrod studied them
an instant, then looked significantly at me.
, " It is too bad," he said, with a shrug of his
shoulders. " I suppose you see poor Turpin's
I nodded. It was hard for the boy, and Kitty
was by no means blameless, but just now her
conduct was the source of absolute comfort to
me. In my fondness for Amory I was glad to
see that now that it came to actual love-making,
— now that Turpin was undoubtedly enmeshed
and fluttering in her toils, the little coquette was
distressed by his vehemence. She was thinking
of another, and my hopes for my own young
knight were high. There could be no doubt of
the situation, for had we not gathered in honor
of the major and his gallant young adjutant?
"Were we not there to break bread once more
before parting, — to wish them bon voyage with
our stirrup-cups ? Their orders had come. Quiet
232 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
restored to the Crescent City, Major Williams's
little battalion was to return forthwith to their
station in Kentucky. They were to start that
night, and Turpin was facing his fate.
It was soon time to walk down " homeward,"
as we had learned to think of Newhall's rooms
on Royal Street. Harrod and I led the way.
Major Williams followed, escorting Pauline.
Kitty and Turpin silently took their places in the
rear, and before we had gone three squares they
were out of sight behind. At the steps the major
said his farewells, with many a hope that we
might all meet again in our wanderings. " Say
good-by to Miss Carrington for me," he added,
with a smile half sad, half mischievous. "I fear
poor Turpin leaves his heart here. Tell him for
me to take his time; he won't be needed for an
hour yet." And with a wave of his hand the
soldierly fellow strode 'down the street.
Then, even as we stood there, Turpin and
Kitty arrived. With her first glance at them
Pauline's sympathetic heart seemed to realize
the situation. She signalled to us to follow her,
and entered at once. Unaccustomed as ever to
the interpretation of feminine signals, I blunder-
ingly stayed where I was, and Harrod hovered
irresolutely in the doorway.
"Won't you come in?" we heard her say
timidly, almost pleadingly, as she held out her
KITTY'S CONQUEST. 233
*' No, thank you, not this time ; I must catch
"Williams. Say good-by for me, please." He
grasped her hand, and seemed to wring it hard
an instant, then, pulling his cap down over his
eyes, dashed away.
Kitty stood one moment looking sorrowfully
after him, then slowly passed us, and went in
without a word. She did not appear again that
evening so long as I was there.
Early next morning a note reached me from
Harrod. A telegram had just reached him from
Sandbrook. " Father says he will be here to-
morrow. Mrs. A.mory — Frank's mother — coming
on same train." And, leaving everything undone
that I ought to have done at the office, I hastened
up to Amory's lodgings to see what that might
mean. He was sitting up, partially dressed, and
would be glad to see me, said the orderly ; and,
stumbling up the stairs, I was shown to his room.
Very pale and rather thin looked our Mars,
but his face was brighter and his eyes far clearer.
He was far from strong, however, and apologized
for not rising, as he held out his hand.
" Mother is coming," were almost his first
" So I heard. Judge Summers telegraphed.
Colonel Harrod that he would be here to-mor-
row, — at noon, I suppose, — and that Mrs. Amory
was on the train. What a very pleasant surprise
for all !"
234 KITTYS CONQUEST.
" Yes. When she heard from me how ill
Vinton was, and that I could not get away, the
little mother must have made up her mind to
come to me. It is a surprise, yet a very glad one.
Where can we put her? This house is no place,
and yet, it may be two or three days before I can
get out, and I hate to have her alone at the St.
" Why not with the Summers' at Colonel New-
hall's place ? There are one or two rooms va-
cant, and the landlady seems very pleasant."
Mars flushed to the temples.
" I think not," he said, hesitatingly. " It — it's
too far away. She would rather be up here with
me, or near me. She wants so much to know
Vinton, too, — has such an admiration for him;
but she could not see him just now, I suppose.
How is he to-day ?"
" Very much better last night. So much so
that Miss Summers went over and dined with us
at Moreau's, — a little dinner to Major Williams
and Turpin, you know," said I, soothingly, and
with calm note of the twinge which seemed to
shoot over Amory's features at the mention of the
party. " They went back to Kentucky last night,
I suppose you know," I added.
" They ? No, I didn't !" said Mars, with sud-
den animation. " I wanted to see Turpin, too.
He was here twice, but they said I wasn't well
enough, or something, and he went away. Did
KITTY'S CONQUEST. 235
he go back witli the battalion ?" he inquired,
" Certainly. He came around to say good-by
Mars settled back in his chair with an expres-
sion of absolute relief.
Now, thought I, is the time to have a few
words about Bella Grayson. It was just about
time to look for the coming of her reply to my
diplomatic letter, and very positively did I want
to know just how matters stood between her
and my cavalryman. Meddling old Polonius
that I was, it seemed to me perfectly right and
natural that Mars should reciprocate my warm
interest in him, that he should want to tell
me about Bella, and that the fact of my rela-
tionship to her should give me an added lustre
in his eyes. This last, perhaps, was realized.
He was more inclined to be very courteous and
semi-confidential in his tone, yet he was not at
It was at the tip of my tongue to make some
genial, off-hand, matter-of-fact inquiry, such as
" Heard from Bella, lately ?" by way of putting
him entirely out of all embarrassment, when,
fortunately, the orderly entered, saying a gentle-
man asked to speak a moment with Mr. Brandon.
Going out in some surprise to the landing, Mr.
Brandon there encountered one of the detectives
whom he had recently learned to know.
236 KITTrS CONQUEST.
" Can you come down to the office, sir ? We
have one of your birds, if not both," was the
extent of his communication. And dropping
Amory ; forgetting Bella ; I went.
An hour later, both Harrod Summers and my-
self were curiously inspecting a pair of inebri-
ated bipeds at the police station. Both were
stolidly drunk, and were plunged in the heavy
sleep that resulted from their excessive potations.
One, the younger, was a tolerably well-dressed
youth not absolutely unlike Peyton ; but all the
same a total stranger. Neither of us had ever
seen him before. But his companion — was Hank
The two had been guilty of some drunken
turbulence in a down-town saloon, said one of
the police-officers, and had attracted the attention
of the " force." In the course of a wordy alter-
cation between them a detective had dropped in,
and, after a few moments' apparently indifferent
lounging and listening, had suddenly gone in
search of a comrade, meantime bidding the offi-
cer keep his eye on them. They were still drink-
ing and squabbling when the detective returned.
Smith was demanding payment of money which
the other protested he had never received, and
it was not long before the lie was given and
a scuffle ensued. This was sufficient to enable
238 KITTrS CONQUEST.
the officers to arrest them as drunk and disor-
derly, and then to notify us. That Peyton was
in some way connected with the sudden appear-
ance of Hank Smith in the Crescent City neither
^>f us could doubt for a minute, as Peyton's name,
with many blasphemous qualifications, had been
frequently mentioned in their altercation. It
would be some hours before they could be iu
condition to account for themselves and their
motives ; meantime the colonel and I were de-
voured with impatience and curiosity. The po-
lice supposed that they had the big ruffian of our
night adventure in the person of Smith, but he
was not the man. His presence only added to
the mystery. For several weeks after his trial
at Jackson he had disappeared from our view and
we had heard nothing of his movements. Now,
what could have brought him here, and what
connection had his wanderings with Peyton's ?
I vainly puzzled over this problem while study-
ing the flushed and sodden features of this arch-
reprobate. Harrod went down home again to
tell Vinton of the important capture. I had to
go to the office at noon, but late in the day we
were again at the station, and now, still bewil-
dered and surly, but somewhat freshened by lib-
eral applications of cold water from the pump,
the ex-leader of the Tishomingo Ku-Klux was
sitting up and chewing the cud of melancholy
retrospect in place of the accustomed solace of
KITTY'S CONQUEST. 239
" navy plug." Very ugly and ill at ease looked
Hank as the colonel quietly accosted him. He
knew us both at once and seemed not at all sur-
prised at our presence.
Our only object in intruding upon his valu-
able time and his placid meditations being to
find out what had become of Peyton, the ques-
tion arose beforehand, who should question him ?
Supposing that he would be disposed to conceal
everything he might know, we had been plan-
ning what course to pursue ; but his first remark
put an end to our uncertainty.
" I'm as well as a man can be who's just over
a drunk and can't get a cocktail," he growled.
" Have you come to pay me that money for
Cap. Peyton ?" And his bloodshot eyes gleamed
fiercely up at Harrod's calm features.
" How much do you claim, Smith ?" was the
" He knows d — d well. It's a round five hun-
dred dollars, and I'll foller him to Mexico but
that I'll get it out of him, if you don't pay
" Why did you not make him pay you yester-
" Yesterday ?" said Hank, starting to his feet.
" He ain't got back, has he ? If he's lied to
me again, I'll Say, is he back?" he asked,
" I have not seen him yet," answered Harrod,
240 KITTY'S CONqUEST.
" and I do not wish to see liim. I want you to
warn him never to show his face among us again,
Now, supposing you are released to-night, how
soon can you find him ?"
" JFind him ? The young whelp ! He's tricked
me. He's gone to Mexico, d — n him ! I came
here two days ago to meet him as agreed. He
was to pay me the money then, and said you was
here to get it for him; and then, when I got here,
he left word that he was in a scrape, and had to
light out for Texas right away, and never said
another word ahout the money, except that I
might apply to him there for it (' him there'
being the hedraggled-looking youth sitting up
now on his wooden bench and staring stupidly
about him), and — and this is what came of it, by
God ! The money's mine, colonel, and I earned
it fairly that last scrape he was in. He swore
he'd pay me if we'd help him out. They'd have
jailed him sure at Holly Springs if we hadn't
stood by him. It took some of the hardest swear-
ing you ever listened to to turn that marshal off
his track." And Hank's face was woe-begone
as this touching reminiscence occurred to him.
"And that was the service your people ren-
dered him, was it? You could have rendered
his people a much better one by telling the truth
and 'jailing him,' as you say. "What had he
been doing to set the marshal on his track ?"
Hank looked suspiciously at me a moment
KITTY'S CONQUEST. 241
He was apparently ready to make a clean breast
of matters to Harrod, but I was one of a class
he regarded with distrust. Seeing this, Harrod
glanced significantly at me, and I withdrew,
leaving them to work out their own conclu-
Strolling up to headquarters and thence over
to Amory's, I found him sleeping quietly and
Parker reading the newspapers at his bedside.
An enlivening conversation was not to be looked
for in that quarter therefore, and on my speak-
ing to Parker about a room for Mrs. Amory,
who was to arrive on the following day, he re-
plied that he had already secured one close at
hand. This again left me with nothing especial
to do, and in my loneliness and lack of occu-
pation I went down to Royal Street, and came
luckily upon a cheerful gathering at Newhall's,
as we had learned to speak of the house wherein
our Sandbrook party were quartered.
It was a still, balmy evening, and Vinton's
sofa had been trundled into the sitting-room.
He lay there looking rather gaunt and white,
but unutterably happy, for in a low chair by his
side Miss Summers was seated, and she had evi-
dently been reading aloud before my entrance,
for a little blue-and-gold volume of Tennyson
lay in her lap. Harrod and Kitty were seated
at the centre-table near them, and rose to greet
me as I entered, but the moment she had given
L J 21
242 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
me her little hand, with a rather emharrassed
greeting, and I went forward to Vinton's sofa,
Miss Kitty dropped back to the dim light of a
distant corner. I had barely time to congratu-
late the major on his convalescence when he in-
quired eagerly for Amory.
" I have just come from him," I answered.
" He was sleeping quietly, and Mr. Parker was
there with him. He will be all right now in a
day or two. Mrs. Amory will be here to-mor-
row, as you doubtless know, and Parker has
taken a room for her at Madame R 's, close
For some moments we four sat there talking
quietly about her coming and its probable benefit
to Amor3"'s health, which certainly had been suf-
fering of late. Kitty still sat in her corner, ap-
parently occupied with a magazine, though it
was too dark to read at that distance from the
lamp. Vinton, of course, was eager to hear all
the particulars of the recent excitements, how-
ever, and after a few moments he asked to be
" Yes, Brandon, tell him the whole thing. Do
not spare Peyton. Do not imagine that it will
shock Pauline, for I have told her all about it.
Indeed, I may as well take the lead," said Har-
rod, "and give you briefly what Smith confessed
to me to-day. It was Peyton who planned and
led that ambuscade on Amory's command. He
KITTY'S CONQUEST. 243
ordered his party to try and pick off Amory
himself, and but for the darkness they probably
would have killed him. The fellow is a scoun-
drel throughout, and I'm almost sorry he has
escaped now. Smith says he has undoubtedly
gone to Mexico, and most of the money with
him. Now, Brandon, tell us your story."
There was a rustle of skirts at the other end
of the room. Pauline glanced wistfully over to
Kitty's corner, and I could not help looking
thither myself. Without a word the little lady
had risen and left the room.
Pauline rose hurriedly. "I must go to Kitty,"
she said. " She has been very much distressed
about all this trouble of late, and she will worry
herself to death." With that she, too, was gone;
and Mr. Brandon, bereft of his feminine audi-
ence, told his story with far less interest and en-
joyment than he would otherwise have felt.
Vinton was deeply interested, however, and
greatly concerned over Amory's adventure. It
was some time before Miss Summers' return,
and then she brought Kitty's excuses. The latter
had been persuaded finally to go to bed, for she
was shocked inexpressibly at hearing that. Peyton
had really had the hardihood to carry out the
threat of that memorable day at Sandbrook.
"And more than that, she is convinced that
Peyton has been striving to harm Mr. Amory
here in New Orleans, and I had to promise that
244 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
she should know the whole truth. Is it so, Mr.
And once more Mr. Brandon had the gratifi-
cation of relating that episode, and before an-
other day poor Kitty was in possession of all the
And yet when I met her the following after-
noon her eyes were bright; her color height-
ened; her manner animated and almost gay.
" So glad uncle was coming," was her explana-
tion, and yet — she did not care to go to the sta-
tion with Harrod, Pauline, and myself to meet
uncle. This struck me as strange, and I ven-
tured to urge her to accompany us.
" Oh, no ! the carriage only holds four," was
"But you will make the fourth, and you know
I'm not coming back. I'm going to drive Mrs.
Amory up to see her boy at once. He's sitting
up in state ready to welcome her, and we had
some difficulty in persuading him that he must
not attempt to leave the house. You see there
is abundant room, little lady, so why not come ?"
" Thanks, I think not; I'm not ready to drive,"
was her confused answer; and yet I saw that she
had been out. Her hat and gloves lay there
upon the table. Her costume was perfect — and
so was her determinq,tion.
The carriage came and we drove ofi", leaving
her smiling and kissing her hand gayly from the
KITTF'S CONqUEST. 246
balcony above our heads. Pauline glanced back
lovingly at ber as we turned the corner.
"Isn't she exquisite?" she said to Harrod,
whose eyes, too, were fixed upon the fairy-like
little figure until 'twas hidden from our sight,
" Yes, and utterly incomprehensible. Last
night she was in the depths of misery when she
heard about Peyton's connection with that ras-
cally business last December. Long after the
rest of us had gone to bed, Pauline went in and
told her the whole story of your night adven-
ture and Peyton's further rascality, and, by
Jove ! it acted like a counter-irritant. She has
been in a whirl of spirits all morning; but,
Paulie, she should not i ash out on the streets
by herself. She was out nearly half an hour
" 'Not out of sight, Harrod. I had her in view
from the balcony."
" What on earth could she find to do down on
Royal Street for nearly half an hour without
going out of sight ?"
Pauline smiled demurely. " Merely making
some purchases at the corner, I fancy."
" At the corner ? Why, it's a cigar store."
"I did not say in the corner, 31. le colonel
Kitty is fond of oranges."
" Then it took half an hour to buy half a dozen
oranges of that old Dago at the fruit-stand, did
it? Still, that does not account for her blithe
246 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
spirits. One would think that having sent one
adorer away heart-broken ; and another having
vanished in disgrace (though that was but a boy
and girl affair), and a third laid up as the result
of the second's rascality ; a girl might be expected
to suffer some pangs of remorse. I declare I
believe some women have no more conscience
than kittens, and our Kitty is one of them," said
Harrod, half wrathfully.
A moment's silence, then, —
" Well, why should she not want to come and
meet the judge ?" I asked, with blundering per-
" And ivhy should she be bright as a button
this afternoon ?" demanded Harrod.
Pauline smiled with conscious superiority. " I
can understand it readily, and am really sur-
prised that you two profound thinkers should be
so utterly in the dark. I'm not going to betray
her, however; you ought to be able to see through
it yourselves." And that silenced me completely.
I record it with absolute humility that not until
days afterwards was it made clear to me that
when Pauline told Kitty the story of Amory's
night-ride, the latter was able to account for the
first time for his extraordinary conduct at Mo-
reau's and the theatre; more than that, the child
then knew what it was that had brought him in
the dead of night to take one look at her window
before going out to meet Peyton. As for her
KITTY'S CONQUEST. 247
refusal to go to the depot, she simply felt unable
to meet in that way Frank Araory's mother.
The train came in on time. Harrod sprang
aboard, and in another moment emerged from
the Pullman escorting his gray-haired father,
and with them appeared the pale, placid face I
had so admired in the picture at Amory's tent.
Dressed in black, though not in deep mourning,
the gentle lady stepped from the car, and Miss
Summers, who had extended her right hand,
gave one swift glance in the peaceful eyes, then
suddenly, impulsively, threw forward both ; and
Harrod and I had abundant time to welcome the
judge before either lady had a w'ord for us.
When I turned again to look at them Mrs.
Amory and Pauline were still standing hand in
hand, and the latter's lovely face, flushed with
happiness, and with eyes that glistened through
the starting tears, was hardly more beautiful
than the sweet, sorrow-worn features of her who
had found " that peace which the w^orld cannot
give," and in the sanctity of her bereaved life
had learned the lesson of resignation, — the blessed
hope of a blessed future. We would not inter-
rupt them as they stood gazing into each other's
eyes — the mother and her boy's devoted friend.
It seemed best that from Pauline she should hear
of Frank's improvement ; of his captain's con-
valescence ; and that the bonds of sympathy that
drew them in such close alliance should there be
248 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
riveted without my customary interference ; but
neither lady was forgetful of us, and turning to
me, Mrs. Araory, in that soft, sweet voice men
love to hear, — all the more winning for ita
Southern accent, — asked, —
" And is not this Mr. Brandon, my boy's
friend ?" And then Mr. Brandon had the hap-
piness of clasping her hand, and presently of
leading her to her carriage. She was impatient
to get to her son, and it was soon arranged that
Pauline should drive up to see her later in the
evening, and then we separated. Ten minutes
more and the orderly opened the door, and,
obedient to my beckoning finger, stepped out as
the lady was ushered in. We only heard the
glad ring in Frank's brave young voice ; one cry
of " Mother !" and then we closed the door and
left them together.
An hour afterwards, Mr. Parker and I walked
over from headquarters to pay our respects to
Mrs. Amory and escort her to her lodgings,
where hospitable Madame E, was waiting to
welcome her and refresh her with tea. We found
the doctor there in blithe chat with his patient
and that now happy mother. Very sweet and
gentle was her greeting for us. She seemed to
know just what to say to each and every one, and
charmed Parker at once, as she had me, by her
lovelymanner and voice. Almost the first question
was, " Can we not move Frank over with me ?"
iCITTrS CONQUEST. 249
But Mars protested. Here tie was right near
his troop ; could hear the trumpet-calls and the
voices of the men at times ; and so felt with them.
The doctor would not let him go to duty for
forty-eight hours at the least, — perhaps not
then, — and he wanted to remain where he was.
Parker laughingly oifered to come and occupy
the room if he really thought an officer must be
with the troop, and then the doctor said his say.
A carriage could be there in ten minutes ; he was
all dressed; he might just as well move over to
Madame's, a square away ; be in comfortable
quarters, and have his mother in the adjoining
room. The project was decided on in spite of
him. Parker scurried over to Camp Street, and
came back with information that just such rooms as
were needed were there in readiness, and when
the carriage came, our boy was half lifted, half led,
down the stairs, and correppondingly transferred
to new and cosey quarters nearly opposite head-
quarters. Some of the men brought over the
trunk and his few belongings, but when it came
time to start, Mars himself had stretched forth
his hand and gathered in a beautiful bunch of
sweet wild violets whose fragrance had filled the
little room. I had noticed them on the table by
his side the moment we entered, and now con-
ceived it time to inquire whence they came.
"I'm not quite sure," said Amory, with some-
thing vastly like a blush. " They were left here
250 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
an hour or so before mother came, and I think
Miss Summers must have sent them."
And yet that evening, when Pauline and Col-
onel Summers came to see Mrs. Amory for a few-
moments, I was still there. The violets were by
Amory's bedside up-stairs ; Mrs. Amory made
no allusion to them, but I did, unblushingly ;
and neither affirming nor denying that she had
sent them. Miss Summers silenced me by saying
that she was glad they gave Mr. Amory pleasure,
and instantly changed the subject and addressed
her talk to her lady friend. Driving home,
however, she was at my mercy and I again
pressed the matter. A keen suspicion was actu-
ally beginning to glimmer in my brain,
" You sent those violets of course. Miss Sum ■
" If so, why ask me, Mr. Brandon ?"
" Well ! I)id7iH you, then ?"
"IS'o, sir; I never even knew of their bemg
sent." And Miss Summers was plainly and mis-
chievously enjoying my perplexity.
Leaving me at my rooms, the brother and sistei
continued on their homeward wa}' and their en-
thusiastic chat about Mrs. Amory, which my un-
feeling curiosity had broken in upon. It waa
quite late and my letters had been brought up
from the office. First on the package was the
one for which I was eagerly waiting, — the answer
to my diplomatic missive to Bella Grayson.
KITTY'S CONQUEST. 251
Ignoring all others I plunged instanter into that,
and was rewarded — as I deserved.
'' Dear Uncle George," she wrote. — " It was
such a treat and so rare an honor to receive a
letter from your august hand, that for some time
I could not believe it was intended for me at
all. Indeed, to be veri/ frank, the closing page
rather confirmed me in that impression. You
men always taunt us by saying that the gist
of a woman's letter lies in the postscript (one
cynical acquaintance of mine went so far as to
say that it lies all the way through), and yet not
until that last page was reached did I discover
the object of yours. Now, Uncle Georgy, isn't
that circumlocution itself? Confess.
" But you really do seem ' interested in young
Amory,' as you call him ; and his ' evident admi-
ration for a fair young friend of yours — an heir-
ess — commands your entire sympathy.' What a
cold-blooded, mercenary avowal, 3f. mon oncle!
or, do you — is it possible that you mean — you
too are interested in her ? No ! That is hardly
tenable as a supposition. There is something so
disingenuous about the rest of the letter that
your interest is evidently on his account. Thank
you ever so much for ' having half a mind to
take me into your confidence.' And now, how
can I dispel your perplexity ? "With the best in-
tentions in the world, how powerless I am !
252 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
"■ You believe he has some lady correspondent
up JSTorth. "Well, that strikes me as quite a
reasonable supposition. Indeed, I have heard
that most of them have ; but what — what did I
ever say to lead to such a remark as this : ' Know-
ing what susceptible fellows cadets are (from
your own statements)'? What could I ever have
said to give you such an impression ? Why,
Uncle George, how should I know whether they
are susceptible or not ? and how could you be so
cruel as to allude to the dismal fact that I had
been up there every summer for six or eight
years, and am still Bella Grayson ? Does that
look as though I thought them susceptible ?
"But seriously; you say that Mr. Amory has
become involved in ' some entanglement there
from which he would now gladly escape,' and
you fancy that Mr. Amory has done me the
honor to make me his confidante; but herein
you are mistaken. Certainly I have never heard
a word from him of an ' entanglement,' nor do I
remember his being devoted to any young girl
in particular. Indeed, he struck me as being
rather general in his attentions, what little I saw
of him. It would be a great pleasure, no doubt,
*to help him out of his boyish folly and into
something worth having,' to use your own words,
but indeed. Uncle George, you overrate my in-
" Nevertheless, I always liked Mr. Amory very
KITTY'S CONQUEST. 253
much, and am greatly interested in his romance.
Perhaps if you were to tell me what he said to
make you think he wanted to escape from his
Northern entanglement, I might be able to re-
call some one of his flames to whom the remarks
would be applicable. Tell me what you kiioWy
and then my 'thinking-cap' may be put on to
some advantage. Just now I'm much in the
dark, and, except very casually indeed, have not
heard from Mr. Amory for quite a while (How
definite ! — G. S. B.), and as he never mentioned
this new charmer to his ' confidante,' I am most
curious to hear of her. Do tell me who she is,
what she is like. Is she pretty ? of course that
is the first question; is she — anything, every-
thing, in fact? Do be a good Uncle Georg}^
and write. We were all so glad to hear from
you, but as I answered, I shall expect an answer
equally prompt. So write speedily to
" Your loving niece, Bella."
"When Mr. Brandon finally sought his bachelor
pillow that night, it is regretfully recorded that
he, like Dogberry, remembered that he was writ
Two days after Mrs. Amory's arrival, I was
seated in Madame R 's cosey parlor. Beside
me in an easy-chair, and dressed in his fatigue
uniform, was Mars. On the table beside him
were two bunches of violets in their respective
tumblers. One fresh and fragrant, the other
faded and droopy. It was late in the afternoon;
Mrs. Amory had gone with Mr. Parker in search
of a little fresh air and exercise, and Mars had
dropped his newspaper to give me a pleasant
welcome. He was a little languid and tired, he
said ; " had to write a long letter that morning."
And here he looked very strangely at me, "but
felt better now that 'twas gone." I could not
but fancy that there was a constraint, a vaguely
injured tone, in his quiet talk. There was a lack
of the old, cordial ring in his voice, though he
was every bit as courteous, even as friendly as
ever. It was something that puzzled me, and I
wanted to get at once at the why and wherefore,
yet shrunk from questioning.
Somehow or other my psychological investiga-
tions and inquiries had not been crowned with
brilliant success of late, and distrust had taken
KTTTV'S CONQUEST. 255
the place of the serene contidence with which I
used to encounter such problems. " Mother has
taken the letter to post," he' said, " but will be
back verj soon. I expect her any moment."
As we were talking there came a ring at the
bell. A servant passed the doorway, and in an
instant reappeared ushering two ladies, Miss
Summers followed by Kitty Carrington.
" Why, Frank Amory ! How glad I am to
see you up again !" was the delighted exclama-
tion of the former, as she quickly stepped for-
ward to take his hand ; " and here's Kitty," she
added, with faintly tremulous tone. " We — Kitty
hoped to see your mother, and they said she was
" Mother will be back in a moment. How do
you do. Miss Carrington ?" said Mars, looking
around Pauline in unmistakable eagerness, and
with coloring cheeks and brow, as he strove to
rise and hold out his hand.
"Don't try to get up, Mr. Amory," said Kitty,
timidly, half imploringly, as with downcast eyes,
and cheeks far more flushed than his own, she
quickly stepped to his side; just touched his
hand, and then dropped back to the sofa with-
out 80 much as a word or glance for miserable
me. For several minutes Pauline chatted gayly,
as though striving to give every one time to re-
gain composure. Kitty sat silently by ; once in
awhile stealing timid, startled glances around;
256 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
and listening nervously, as though for the coming
footsteps of some one she dreaded to meet. Pau-
line watched her with furtive uneasiness, and
occasionally looked imploringly at me.
To my masculine impenetrability there was
only one point in the situation. Mrs. Amory
had arrived here in town — a stranger. Miss
Summers and Miss Carrington were not exactly
old residents, but were " to the manner born,"
and it behooved them both to call upon the older
lady. Why should there be any cause for em-
barrassment ? "Why should Kitty look ill at
ease, nervous, distressed ? Why should Mars be
so unusually excited and flighty ? What was
there about the whole proceeding to upset any
one's equanimity ? What incomprehensible mys-
teries women were anyhow ! Bella Grayson es-
pecially I What dolts they made men appear in
trying to conform to their whims and vagaries !
What a labor of Hercules it was to attempt to
fathom their moods ! What The door
opened and in came Mrs. Amory and Parker.
All rose to greet them, and I could see that Kitty,
pale as a sheet, was trembling from head to foot.
At least I had sense enough to appreciate and
admire once more the grace and tact and genuine
kindliness that seemed to illumine every act and
word of this gracious lady. Mrs. Amory went
at once to Kitty ; greeted her in the same low-
toned yet cordial voice that had already become the
KITTY'S CONQUEST. 257
subject of our admiring talk ; then, after a brief
word with each of us, had taken her seat with
Kitty upon the sofa, and in five minutes had so
completely won the trust and confidence of that
nervous little body that her color had returned
in ah its brilliancy; her lovely dark eyes were
sparkling with animation and interest; and
though she talked but little, we could all see that
she was charmed with Mrs. Amory's manner,
and that she drank in every word with unflagging
Mars, though keeping up a desultory talk with
Miss Summers and Parker, managed to cast fre-
quent glances at the pair on the sofa, and it was
a comfort to watch the joy that kindled in his
young eyes. Pauline seemed to divine his wish
to watch them, and frequently took the load ot
conversation from his shoulders by absorbing the
attention of the aide-de-camp and myself, and
this gave him the longed-for opportunity to listen
once in a while to the talk between his mother
and Kitty. Once, glancing furtively towards his
chair, Kitty's eyes had encountered his fixed in-
tently upon her, whereat the color flashed again
to the roots of her hair, and the long lashes and
white lids dropped instantly over her betraying
orbs. From that marvellous and intricate ency-
clopaedia of family history, a Southern woman's
brain, Mrs. Amory had brought forth an array
of facts regarding Kitty's relatives that fairly de-
258 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
lighted that little damsel with its interest. Some-
where in the distant past a North Carolina Ward
had married a Kentucky Carrington ; and while
she herself had married an officer of the army,
her sister had married a Ward; and so it went.
Mrs. Amory could tell Kitty just where and
wdiom her people had married from the days of
Daniel Boone. The chat went blithely on, and
BO, when Miss Summers smilingly rose and said
that it was time to go, Kitty looked startled and
incredulous, — the dreaded interview had been a
genuine pleasure to her. Mars arose and stood
erect as the ladies were saying their adieux.
Pauline was saying to Mrs. Amory that by the
next day Major Vinton would hope to be able to
drive out for the air, and as soon as possible
would come to see her ; and this left Kitty for an
instant unoccupied. Her eyes would not wander
in his direction, however; and after an instant's
irresolute pause he stepped beside her, so that,
as they turned to go, she Iiad to see his out-
stretched hand. I wanted to see what was to
follow, but Parker and I had sidled towards the
door to escort the ladies to their carriage. Miss
Summers caught my eyes ; seemed instantly to
read my vile curiosity, for, with a smile that was
absolutely mischievous, she placed herself be-
tween me and Kitty, who was last to leave the
room. I only saw him bend low over her hand ;
could not catch a word he said, and was calmly
KITTY'S CONQUEST. 259
surged out into the hall with ungratified and
baffled spirit. It was cruel in Pauline. She
ought to have known that I was even more inter-
ested in the aiFair than any w^oman could have
" What do you think of Mrs. Amory ?" I deli-
cately and appropriately asked Miss Kitty as we
drove down-town. She was in a revery, and not
disposed to talk ; and Miss Summers, who had
invited me to take a seat in their carriage, had
given me no opportunity of breaking in upon
her meditations until this moment. Kitty started
from her dream ; flashed one quick glance at me,
as she answered, —
" Mrs. Amory ? I think she's lovely" then as
quickly relapsed into her fit of abstraction. Evi-
dently Mr. Brandon's well-meant interruptions
were not especially welcome there ; then, as we
reached the house on Royal Street, Major Vinton,
seated at the window, waved us [us indeed !) a
joyous greeting, and, despite Miss Summers'
most courteous invitation to come in a while, Mr.
Brandon felt that he had been interloping long
enough, and having thus partially come to his
senses, the narrator walked dolefully away.
In the week that followed, there were almost
daily visits between the ladies of the Royal and
Camp Street households. Vinton had sufficiently
improved to be able to drive out every day and
to take very short walks, accompanied by his radi-
260 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
ant JiancSe. Much mysterious shopping was going
on, Mrs. Amory and Kitty being occupied for
some hours each bright morning in accompany-
ing Miss Summers on her Canal Street re-
searches. Mars had returned to duty with his
troop, and almost every evening could be seen
riding down to Royal Street to report to his cap-
tain how matters were progressing. I was struck
by the regularity and precision with which those
reports seemed to be necessary, and the absolute
brevity of their rendition. Having nothing better
to do, as I fancied, I was frequently there at
Royal Street when Mars would come trotting
down the block pavement. Each evening seemed
to add to the spring and activity with which he
would vault from the saddle ; toss the reins to
his attendant orderly, and come leaping up the
steps to the second floor. " All serene" was the
customary extent of his report to Vinton, who
was almost invariably playing backgammon with
Miss Summers at that hour; while the judge,
Harrod, and I would be discussing the affairs of
the day in a distant corner. This left Kitty the
only unoccupied creature in the room, unless the
listless interest bestowed upon the book she held
in her lap could be termed occupation. What
more natural, therefore, than that Mr. Amory
should turn to her for conversation and enter-
tainment on his arrival ? And then Kitty had
improved so in health and spirits of late. She
KITTY'S CONQUEST. 201
was so blithe and gay; humming little snatches
of song; dancing about the old house like a
sprite ; striving very hard to settle down and be
demure when I came to see the judge ; and never
entirely succeeding until Amory appeared, when
she was the personification of maidenly reserve
and propriety. Occasionally Mars would escort
his mother down, and then there would be a
joyous gathering, for we had all learned to love
her by this time ; and as for Vinton — Miss Sum-
mers once impetuously declared that she was
with good reason becoming jealous. When she
came, Kitty would quit her customary post on the
sofa ; take a low chair, and actually hang about
Mrs. Amory's knees ; and all Mars' chances for a
tete-a-ttte were gone. Nevertheless, he was losing
much of the old shyness, and apparently learn-
ing to lose himself in her society, and to be pro-
foundly discontented when she was away ; and
one lovely evening a funny thing happened.
There was to be a procession of some kind on
Canal Street, — no city in the world can compete
with New Orleans in the number and variety of
its processions, — and as the bands were playing
brilliantly over towards the St. Charles, Vinton
proposed that we should stroll thither and hear
the music. The judge offered his arm with his
old-fashioned, courtly grace to Mrs. Amory;
Vinton, of course, claimed Pauline ; Harrod
and I fell back together ; and Amory and Kitty
262 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
paired off both by force of circumstances and his
own evident inclination. Once on the banquette^
Araory showed a disposition to linger behind and
take the rear with his sweet companion, but Miss
Kit would none of it. With feminine inconsist-
ency and coquettishness she fairly took the lead,
and so it resulted that she and Amory headed
instead of followed the party. Plainly Mars was
a little miffed ; but he bore up gallantly, and had
a most unexpected and delightful revenge.
At the very first crossing, something of a crowd
had gathered about the cigar store, and so it re-
sulted for a moment that our party was brought
to a stand, all in a bunch, right by the old Dago's
orange counter to which Harrod had made dis-
dainful allusion in connection with Kitty's mys-
terious mission of the previous week ; and now,
close beside the counter, there was seated a chatty
old negress with a great basket before her heaped
with violets : some in tiny knots, others in loose
fragrant pyramids. The instant she caught sight
of Kitty her face beamed with delight. She
eagerly held forward her basket; Kitty struggled
as though to push ahead through the throng on
the narrow pavement, but all to no purpose. She
could not move an inch; and there, imprisoned,
the little beauty, bewildered with confusion and
dismay, was forced to hear what we all heard,
the half-laughing, half-reproachful appeal of the
KITTY'S CONQUEST. 263
" Ah, lady ! you doan' come to me no mo' for
vi'lets now de captain's up agin." And there
was no help for it ; one and all we burst into a
peal of merry laughter ; even poor Kitty, though
she stamped her foot with vexation and turned
away in vehement wrath. And oh ! how proud,
wild with delight Frank Amory looked as he
bent over her and strove to make some diversion
in her favor by boring a way through the crowd
and hurrying her along ! We could see him all
the rest of the evening striving hard to make her
forget that which he never could. But Kitty had
only one feminine method of revenging herself,
and that was on him. Womanlike, she was cold
and distant to him all the evening; left him at
every possible opportunity to lavish attentions on
anybody else, — even me ; and after all Mars went
home that night looking far from happy.
'No sooner was he out of the house than Harrod
turned to me with an expression of inspired
idiocy on his face and said, " What was it you
were all laughing &t up there at the corner, —
something about violets and captains ?"
Whereat Kitty flounced indignantly out of the
room, and we saw her no more that night.
But all this time not another word had I heard
from Bella Grayson. In fact, not a word had
I written to her. She had parried the verbal
thrusts in my letter with such consummate ease
and skill that it occurred to me I was no match
264 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
for her in that sort of diplomacy. N'ow the
question that was agitating my mind was, how
was Mars to get out of that entanglement if it
really existed ? My efforts in his behalf did not
seem to be rewarded with the brilliant and im-
mediate success that such depth of tact had de-
served ; and, my intervention being of no avail,
what could he expect ?
Fancy the surprise, therefore, with which I
received on the following day a visit from Mars
himself. It was late in the afternoon ; I was
alone in the office and hard at work finishing
some long neglected business, when the door
opened and my young cavalryman appeared.
He shook my hand cordially ; said that he had
come to see me on personal business ; and asked
if I could give him half an hour. I gladly said
yes, and, noting his heightened color and his
evident embarrassment, bade him pull up a chair
and talk to me as he would to an old chum. I
can best give his story in nearly his own words.
" Mother says I owe it to you, Mr. Brandon,
to tell you what has been on my mind so long.
You have been very kind and very indulgent,
and I wish I had told you my trouble long ago.
I'll make it short as I can." And with many a
painful blush — but with manful purpose and
earnestness — Mars pushed ahead.
" I met Miss Grayson, your niece, during ray
first class summer at West Point, and got to ad-
KITTY'S CONQUEST. 265
mire her, as everybody else did. I got to more
than admire her. She absolutely fascinated me.
I don't mean that she tried to in the least, — she
just couldn't help it. Before camp was half over
I was just beside myself about her; couldn't be
content if I didn't see her every day; take her
to the hops, and devote myself generally. Every
man in the class thought I was dead in love with
her. Mr. Brandon, I — I did myself. I never
ceased to think so — until last — until after that
Ku-Klux fight at Sandbrook. I made her think
so. She really tried to talk me out of it at first,
— she did indeed. She said that it was simply a
fancy that I would soon outgrow ; and she never
for once could be induced to say that she cared
anything for me. She was always lovely and
ladylike, always perfect, it seemed to me. She
even went so far as to remind me that she was
as old as I was, and far older in the ways of the
world, and cadets especially. She never encour-
aged me one bit, and I just went on getting
more and more in love with her all that year ;
used to write to her three or four times a week ;
dozens of letters that she only occasionally an-
swered. Then she came up in June, and I was
incessantly at her side. She might not. care for
me, but she did not seem to care for anybody
else, and so it went on. She would not take my
class ring when I begged her to that summer.
She wore it a few days, but made me take it
266 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
back the day we graduates went away; but I
went back that summer to see her twice, and
when I came away I swore that after I'd been in
service a year I would return to New York to
ofFer myself again ; and we used to write to each
other that winter, only her letters were not like
mine. They were nice and friendly and all
that, — still, I knew she had my promise. I
thought she would expect me to come back. I
felt engaged so far as I was concerned; then
when I got wounded her letters grew far more
interested, you know (Mr. Brandon nodded ap-
preciatively) ; and then they began to come
often ; and, whether it was that she thought our
life was very hazardous, or that the climate was
going to be a bad thing for me, or that I would
not recover rapidly there, her letters began to
urge me to come North. I got two at Sand-
brook — one the very day you were there at the
tent — and two since we came here; and then —
then I found only too surely that it was not love
I felt for her; indeed, that I had grown to love —
you know well enough (almost defiantly) — Miss
Carrington. I felt in honor bound to carry out
my promise to Miss Grayson, and to avoid — to —
well, to be true to my promise in every way.
But I was utterly miserable. Mother detected
it in my letters, and at last I broke down and
told her the truth. She said there was only one
honorable course for me to pursue, and that was
KITTY'S CONQUEST. 267
to write to Miss Grayson and tell her the same,
tell her the whole truth ; and it was an awful
wrench, but I did it that day you were at the
house. It came hard too, for only the day be-
fore a letter came from her full of all sorts of
queer things. A little bird had whispered that,
like all the rest, I had found my cadet attach-
ment something to be forgotten with the gray
foat and bell buttons. She had heard this, that,
and the other thing; she would not reproach.
It was only what she had predicted all along,
etc., and it cut me up like blazes; but mother
smiled quietly when I told her, said that I mast
expect to be handled without gloves, and warned
me that I must look for very just comments on
my conduct;, and then somehow I decided that
you had written to her about me. You said
nothing to make me think so, and altogether I
was in an awful stew until this morning."
" And what now ?" I asked, eagerly.
" Her answer came. Brandon, she's a trump;
she's a gem ; and so's her letter. Mother's got
it, and is writing to her herself. I'm inexpress-
ibly humbled, but somehow or other happier
than I've ever been." And the boy and I shook
hands warmly, and Mr. Brandon bethought him-
self that that blessed Bella should have the love-
liest Easter present the avuncular purse could
" What did Bella say ?" he asked.
268 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
" Oh ! I can't quite tell you. It was all just
so sweet and warm- hearted and congratulatory
(though that is possibly premature), and just as
lovely a letter as ever was written."
" And we may look for two weddings in the
— th Cavalry, then ?"
But Mars' features clouded. " Vinton and
Miss Summers will be married next month ; for
Vinton says we may expect to be ordered to the
plains with the coming of summer, but no such
luck for me. I have precious little hope just
" And has Miss Carrington heard of our
Bella?" I asked, mischievously.
" Good heavens ! I hope not. That would be
the death-blow to everything."
Yes, it struck me that there would be a weapon
that Miss Kit would use with merciless power.
CHAPTER XVIIL »
It was a gala night at the opera. The grand
old house, so perfect in acoustic properties, so
comfortably old-fashioned in design, so quaintly
foreign in all its appointments, was tilled with an
audience composed of the music-loving people
of New Orleans, and a sprinkling of Northern
visitors still lingering amid the balmy odors of
the magnolia and the orange-blossoms. Spring
had come, — summer was coming. The sun was
already high and warm enough to warrant the ap-
pearance of parasols by day ; while, after it sank
to rest, the ray-warmed breezes were welcomed
through open door and casement; and in hun-
dreds of slender hands the fan, swung and flirted
with the indolent grace our Southern women
have so readily learned from their Castilian sis-
terhood across the sea, stirred the perfumed air,
and rustled soft accompaniment to the witchery
of the music.
Entering that old French opera-house on
Bourbon Street, one steps on foreign soil.
America is left behind. French is the lano-uao-e
of every sign, of the libretto, even of the pro-
gramme. French only is or was then spoken by
270 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
the employes of the house. French the orches-
tra, the chorus, the language of the play. French,
everything but the music. The ornamentation
of the house, the arrangement of the boxes, the
very division of the audience was the design of
foreign hands, and here, more readily than any-
where in our land, could one imagine oneself
These were days of triumph for the stockhold-
ers of the old company. The somewhat over-
gilded and too ornate decorations might have
lost much of their freshness, the upholstery
had grown worn and faded ; but the orchestra
and the company were admirable. Aiming at
perfection and completeness in all details, the
managers had kept up the old system of putting
everything thoroughly upon the stage. Costumes
and properties, though old, were accurate and
appropriate ; the chorus was full, admirably
schooled and disciplined; and the orchestra, in
the days when Calabresi's baton called it into life,
had no superior in the country. Instead of lav-
ishing fortunes on some one marvellous prima
donna and concomitant tenor, the aim of the
management had been to secure excellent voices,
good actors, conscientious artists, and so be sure
of rendering an opera in its entirety, — every part
well and suitably filled, instead of turning the
grand creations of the great composers into mere
concert recitations. One heard the opera in Kew
KITTF'S COX QUEST. 271
Orleans as he heard it nowhere else in the coun-
try, and there, and there only of all its places of
public amusement, could one see in full force the
culture and the refinement of the Crescent City.
It was a " full dress" night. The parquet was
filled wath men in the conventional black swal-
low-tail. The dress and second circles of open
boxes, the loges behind them, were brilliant with
the toilets of beautifully-dressed women ; and in
one of these latter enclosures were seated Miss
Summers and Kitty, behind whom could be seen
Vinton, Amory, and Harrod.
Leaving my seat in the parquet, I strolled up
to their box immediately after the curtain fell
upon the first act of " The Huguenots." Some
forty-eight hours had passed since my meeting
with Mars, and that vivid curiosity of mine was
all aflame as to the later developments. Both
ladies turned and gave me cordial welcome as I
entered. Vinton made room for me behind Miss
Summers' chair, and Harrod strolled out to see
Though both officers were in civilian evening
dress, the story of Pauline's engagement was
known among the few acquaintances she had in
society, and her escort, a stranger to the city,
was doubtless assumed to be the Yankee major.
It was too soon after the war for such an alliance
to be looked on with favor by those who had re-
cently been in bitter hostility to the army blue,
272 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
and tbe few glances or nods of recognition that
passed between Miss Summers and a party of
ladies in an adjoining box were constrained —
even cold. To my proud-spirited friend this was
a matter of little consequence. If anything, it
servBd only the more deeply and firmly to attach
her to the gallant gentleman, still pale and lan-
guid from his recent illness, who so devotedly hov-
ered about her the entire evening. Her sweet,
womanly face was full of the deepest tenderness
as she leaned back to speak to him from time to
time, and soon, with woman's quick intuition,
observing that I was anxious to watch Kitty and
Mars, she delightedly resigned herself to my ab-
straction and gave her undivided attention to
jSTever in my brief acquaintance with her had
Xitty Carrington looked so bewitchingly pretty.
Never were her eyes so deep, dark, lustrous ;
never — I could plainly see — so dangerous. N^ever
was her color so brilliant, never were her lips so
red, her teeth so flashingly white ; and never ^^et
had I seen her when all her fascinations were so
mercilessly levelled at a victim's heart, even while
she Lsrself was tormenting him to the extent of
every feminine ingenuity. The situation was
plain at a single glance.
Her greeting to me had been coquettishly cor-
dial, and for a moment she looked as though she
expected me to accept Mr. Amory's proliered
KITTY'S CONQUEST. 273
chair at lier back. But Mars had risen with so
rueful a look in his eyes — something- so appealing
and wistful in his bearing — that I had the decency
to decline; and with vast relief of manner he slid
back into his seat, and the torment went on.
In low, eager tones he was murmuring to her
over the back of her chair. She — with head half
turned, so that one little ear, pink and shell-like,
was temptingly near his lips — was listening with
an air of saucy triumph to his pleadings, — what-
ever they were, — her long lashes sweeping down
over her flushed cheeks, and her eyes, only at
intervals, shooting sidelong glances at him.
What he was saying I could not hear, but never
saw I man so plunged in the depths of fascina-
tion. His eyes never left their adoring gaze
upon her face, yet they were full of trouble, full
of pleading that might have moved a heart of
stone. But Kitty was merciless. At last there
came a bubble of soft, silvery laughter and the
mischievous inquiry, —
" And how should a lady answer ? How —
Miss Grayson, for instance?"
For a moment there was no word of reply.
Amory sat like one in a daze. Then very slowly
he drew back, and I could see that his hand
was clinched and that his bright young face had
paled. Alarmed at his silence, toying nervously
T\dth her fan, she strove to see his eyes, yet dared
not look around. Mars slowly rose to his feet,
274 KITTV'S CONQUEST.
bent calmly over 'her, and, thougli his voice
trembled and his lips were very white, he spoke
distinctly, even cuttingly, —
'•'Miss Grayson would have answered at least
with courtesy and — good-night. Miss Carring-
And before another word could be said he had
quickly bowed to the rest of us and abruptly
quitted the box.
Evidently she had tormented him until his
quick, impulsive, boyish nature could bear it no
longer, — until his spirit had taken fire at her
merciless coquetry, — and then, giving her no
chance to retract or relent, he had vanished in
choking indignation. Kitty sat still as a statue
one little minute, turning from red to white.
Pauline, who had heard only Amorj^'s sudden
words of farewell, looked wonderingly up an in-
stant, then seeing plainly that there had been a
misunderstanding, and that remark or interfer-
ence would only complicate matters, she wisely
turned back to Vinton, and the rising of the cur-
tain gave all an excuse to concentrate their eyes,
if not their thoughts, upon the stage.
But the opera was an old story to me. Kitty
was a novelty, a study of constantly varjnng
phases, a picture I never tired of gazing at, and
now she was becoming even more — a perfect fas-
cination. Pauline glanced furtively, anxiously,
at her from time to time, but I, — I most un
KITTY'S CONQUEST. 275
blushingly watched and stared. She was mani-
festly ill at ease and grievously disquieted at the
result of her coquetry. Her brilliant color had
"fled. Her eyes, suspiciously moistened, wan-
dered nervously about the house, as though
searching for her vanished knight, that they
might flash their signal of recall. I, too, kept
an eye on the parquet and the lobby, far as I
could see, vaguely hoping that Mars might re-
lent and take refuge there, when his wrath would
have time to cool, and he could be within range
of her fluttering summons to " come back and
be forgiven." But the second act came to a
close. Mars never once appeared. Vinton and
Miss Summers once or twice addressed some
tentative remark to Kitty, as though to bring
her again into the general conversation and
cover her evident distress ; but monosyllabic re-
plies and quivering lips were her only answer.
I began to grow nervous, and decided to sally
forth in search of my peppery hero. My minis-
trations had been vastly potent and diplomatic
thus far, and might be again. So, with a word
or two of excuse, I made my bow and strolled
into the foyer.
One or two acquaintances detained me a few
moments, but during the intermission between
the acts I was able to satisfy myself that Mr.
Amory was no longer in the house. Indeed,
Bome of the officers stationed in town told me
276 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
that they had seen him crossing the street just aa
they re-entered. Presently I met Colonel New-
hall, and his first question was, —
" How is Vinton to-night ?"
" Very well, apparently. Do you want to see
"Not particularly. He is here, I believe.
You might tell him that his sick-leave is granted.
It may be welcome news to him — just now."
" Naturally : as he expects to be married next
" Yes. I'm glad he got the leave — when he
did," said the colonel, as he turned away to speak
to some friends.
Something in his manner set me to thinking.
What could he mean by saying that he was glad
Vinton had secured his leave of absence ? Was
any sudden move probable ? Amory did say
that it was current talk that their regiment was
to be ordered to the frontier in the spring. Could
it be that the order had already come?
I went back to the box. Kitty looked eagerly
around as I entered, then turned back in evident
disappointment. Not a word was exchanged be-
tween us until the close of the act ; but for two
occupants of the loge " The Huguenots" had lost
It was eleven o'clock and after as we reached
the lodgings on our return from the opera.
Mars had nowhere appeared, though Kitty's
KITTY'S CONQUEST. 277
eyes sought him in the throng at the doorway,
and, as we drew near the house, she looked
eagerly ahead at a soldierly form in cavalry un-
dress uniform. A corporal of the troop was
lounging under the gas-light at the entrance.
The moment he caught sight of our party he
stepped forward and handed Yinton a letter.
There was nothing unusual about a letter ar-
riving for Major Vinton — day or night. Order-
lies came frequently to the old house on Royal
Street with bulky missives for him ; yet I felt a
premonition in some inexplicable way that this
was no ordinary communication. It was a mere
note, and I thought the corporal said, " From the
lieutenant, sir." Yet I knew it meant tidings of
importance, — and so did others.
Miss Summers had withdrawn her hand from
Yinton's arm as he took the note, and with deep
anxiety in her paling face stood watching him as
he opened and read it under the lamp. Kitty
too had stepped forward, and, resting one little
hand on the stone post at the doorway, gazed
with equal intensity and a face that was paler yet
than her cousin's. Harrod and I, a little behind
them, were silent witnesses. Presently Yinton
looked up, his eyes seeking the face he loved.
" What is it?" she asked.
" Our orders have come."
For an instant no one spoke. I could not take
my eyes off Kitty, whose back was towards me,
278 KITTTS CONQUEST.
but who I could see was struggling hard for
composure. Pauline instinctively put forth her
hand, drawing Kitty closer to her side.
" Shall I read it?" asked Vinton, gently, look-
ing at Pauline, after one hurried glance at Kitty.
She nodded assent.
" It is from Amor}- ," he said.
" Dear Major, — Parker has just met me. The
orders are out. Regiment ordered to Dakota.
Our troop goes by first boat to St. Louis. Your
leave is granted, so it does not affect you ; but —
I'm glad to go. Parker says by ' James Howard'
" Yours in haste,
" Amory "
Without a word Kitty Carrington turned from
us and hurried into the house.
" What on earth could take the regiment to
Dakota ?" asked Harrod, after a moment of si-
" The Sioux have been troublesome all along
the Missouri and Yellowstone of late, and this
is anything but unexpected. We had a lively
campaign against the Southern Cheyennes, yoa
remember, and this promises more work of the
same kind, only much farther north."
Pauline's eyes were filling with tears. I was
plainly de trop, and had sense enough left to ap-
KITTrS CONQUEST. 279
predate that fact at least. Promising to meet
Vinton at headquarters in the morning, 1 took
my departure. I had made up my mind, late as
it was, to go and see Amory ; and, late as it was,
I found him in earnest talk with his mother.
" Can you spare me a moment ?" I asked. " I
have just heard the news, and if it he true you
sail to-morrow night, you will be too much occu-
He had come to the door to admit me, and
looked reluctantly back. Hearing my voice, Mrs.
Amory came into the hall to greet me, and cour-
teously as ever she asked me to enter ; but I saw
the traces of tears on her face, and knew that
their time was precious.
" I want to have a moment's talk with this
young man, Mrs. Amory. I will not take him
farther than the corner, and will not keep him
longer than five minutes at the utmost. Can you
spare him that long ?"
She smiled assent, but Mars hung back. He
knew well that I was once again coming forward
with some intervention, and his blood was up,
his anger still aglow ; but I was not to be denied.
He seized his forage-cap and stepped out with
me into the starlit night.
" There is no time for apologies from an old
fellow like me, Amory," said I, placing a hand
involuntarily on his shoulder. " Forgive me if
I pain you, or am too intrusive. I heard what
280 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
happened at the opera to-night. "Would you be
willing to tell me how she came to know any-
thing about Bella Grayson ?"
" I told Miss Carrington myself," said Mars,
rather shortly ; and his hands went down in his
pockets, and a very set look came into his face
as he kicked at a projecting ledge in the uneven
"You know how I've grown to like you,
youngster, and must know that I can have no
other impulse or excuse in thus meddling with
your affairs. I'm fond of her too, Frank, and
have seen enough to-night — and before — to con-
vince me that she would give a vast deal to unsay
those thoughtless words. I do not excuse her
conduct ; but she never for an instant could have
dreamed of its effect, and it did not take the
news of your order to make her repent it bitterly.
I could see that plainly. Amory, don't go without
Mars made no reply whatever.
" Have you told your mother of this misunder-
standing ?" I asked.
"Not exactly. I have told her — she saw 1
was cut up about something and asked — that
something had been said that was very hard to
bear, but that I had rather not talk of it now.
I was too much hurt."
" "Well. Then I must say nothing further, my
boy ; but if I may ask anything for the sake of
KITTY'S CONqUEST. 281
the friendship I feel for you and for them, tell
your mother the whole aifair, and let her guide
your action. Now, forgive me, and good-night.
"We will meet in the morning."
He pressed my hand cordially enough, but still
made no reply to my request. " Thank you, Mr.
Brandon; good-night," was all he said, and Mr.
Brandon walked gloomily homeward. Amantium
ir(E might be easy things to settle if left to the
participants, but were vastly easier to stumble
Clear, cloudless, lovely dawned the morrow,
and long before office hours I had breakfasted
and betaken myself to headquarters. Mr. Parker
was there, and Amory had been at the office, but
Vinton had as yet put in no appearance. My
first question was as to the probable time of de-
parture of the troop, and Parker's tidings filled
me with hope. The quartermaster had been un-
able to secure transportation for the horses in
the " Howard." The troops could not sail be-
fore the following day. Meantime, he said, there
was to be a review of the small force in the city
that very afternoon, and the general had ex-
pressed a desire to have a look at the cavalry
once more before they started for their new
and distant sphere of duty. It was his favor-
ite arm of the service, and he hated to part with
By and by the general himself arrived, and
282 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
Major Vinton happening in at almost the samo
moment, " the chief" led the latter into his pri-
vate office and held him there for over half an
hour in conversation. An orderly was despatched
for Mr. Amory, who was busily occupied over
at the stables, and that young gentleman pres-
ently made his appearance, looking somewhat
dusty and fatigued. The men were packing for
the move and getting ready for their afternoon
exhibition at one and the same time, he ex-
plained. Then Yinton came out, called his sub-
altern to one side, and gave him some instruc-
tions in his quiet way, and no sooner had he
finished than Amory faced about and went out
of the room like a shot. Then for the first time
I had a chance to speak to Vinton and ask after
" Very well ; at least Miss Summers is, de-
spite her natural concern at our sudden taking
" Why, you are not going !" I interrupted.
" Yes," he answered. " As far as Memphis,
at least. Then I shall leave the troop to Amory
and make for Sandbrook, whither the judge and
the ladies will start in a few days. That is," he
concluded, with a smile, " unless some new freak
takes Miss Kitty Carrington. That little lady
is ready to tear her pretty hair out by the hand-
ful this morning. She did not come to breakfast
at all, and I fancy she had an unusually sharp
KITTrS CONQUEST. 283
skirmisTi unth Amory last night. By the way,
I've got a note for him, and he's gone, — gone
clear to the foot of Canal Street, too, to look at
the accommodations on one of those smaller
steamers, — and I was enjoined to give it to him
" Give it to me ; I'll take it," said I, all eager-
ness. " What hoat will he be looking at ? I'll
get there in short order."
"He ought to be back here by noon," said
Vinton. " It will take him not more than an
But I was eager to see Mars myself. The note
must be from Kitty, I argued; and so, indeed, I
knew it to be, from the dainty envelope and
superscription when the major drew it forth.
My theory was that I could get that note to him
in less than twenty minutes, and probably be the
bearer of peace propositions. It was too alluring
a prospect; besides, I was tired of waiting around
headquarters doing nothing. Vinton saw my
eagerness, smiled, gave me his consent and the
note, and in half an hour I was at the levee and
aboard the " Indiana." Mars had been there
and gone. So much for my officiousness.
This time I took a cab, drove rapidly back to
headquarters. N^either Vinton nor Amory was
there. Mr. Parker said that the latter had gal-
loped up not fifteen minutes after I left, reported
that the " Indiana" could not take sixty horses.
284 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
and was oif again, he knew not whither. Vinton
had gone to the stables. Thither I followed.
" The major has just driven oft" in the quarter-
master's ambulance, and they're gone to look at
some steamboat," said the corporal at the gate.
" The lieutenant's horse is back, sir, but he's
gone away too."
This was a complication. It was after twelve.
The review was to come off at three. I wanted
to go down and invite the ladies to drive with
me to see it. But how could I face Kitty Car-
rington with that undelivered note ? Over to
Amory's house was the next venture. New de-
spair. He and his mother had taken a street-
car and gone up-town only a few minutes before
I arrived. Now, what on earth could I do?
" The lieutenant's horse was to be sent to his
quarters," the corporal had informed me, " at
quarter before three, and the lieutenant probably
would not be back at the stables again before
For the next hour Mr. G. S. Brandon was as
miserable a man as the city contained. No one
at headquarters could tell where Amory had
gone. No one knew when Vinton would be
back. I fumed and fidgeted around the office
some few minutes. Neither Colonel Newhall
nor Mr. Parker could help me out in the least.
There was no telling where to look for Amory.
Vinton might be found down along the levee,
KITTY'S CONQUEST. 285
but wliat good would that do? Twice the old
general came trudging into the aide-de-camp'a
room, and looked at me with suspicious eyes
from under his shaggy eyebrows, — ray ill-con-
cealed impatience and repeated inquiries made
him irritable, or my undesired presence during
business hours was a nuisance to him, perhaps;
at all events, after I had for the tenth time,
probably, repeated my hopeless remark of won-
derment as to where that young gentleman could
have gone, just as the general came promenading
into the room with hands clasped behind his back
and his head bent upon his breast, as we New
Orleans people had grown accustomed to seeing
or hearing of him, the old soldier stopped short,
and, raising his head, testily exclaimed, —
" Mr. Brandon, what is the matter? Does that
young officer owe you any money ?"
"Money, sir? ]^o, sir!" I answered, in all
haste and half indignation. " By heavens ! I
wish that were the matter. The boot is on the
other leg, general. I owe him something more
than money. A letter, sir, — a letter from a
young lady, and I undertook to deliver it two
April sunshine bursting through storm-cloud
could not more quickly soften and irradiate the
face of nature than that wonderful smile of the
old general's could lighten every lineament.
Who that ever saw it could foro:et it ? It beamed
286 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
from the wrinkles around the kind old eyes. It
flashed from his even teeth. It dimpled his
cheeks into a thousand merry lights and shadows.
It was sunshine itself, and with it all the old
courtly manner instantly returned.
" I beg your pardon, sir. I beg his pardon, sir.
God bless my soul, what an inexcusable blunder !
A note from a young lady. That charming little
friend of Major Vinton's ? Here, Parker, you
go. You see if you can't find him, sir. Bring
him here, sir. Help Mr. Brandon any way you
can, sir. God bless my soul, what a blunder!"
And by this time we were all laughing too heart-
ily for further words. My indignant and im-
petuous reply had virtually betrayed the situa-
My cab being still at the door I decided to
hurry right down to Royal Street, notify the ladies
of the coming review, and of the fact that the
troop would not sail until the following day,
though I felt sure Vinton had done that ; then I
could return to headquarters. Meantime that
precious note was placed in Parker's hands.
Whirling across Canal Street, the cab was just
turning into Royal when I caught sight of Miss
Summers and Harrod on the banquette, and
obedient to my shout the driver pulled up. They
turned back to greet me. Yes, Vinton had sent
word about the review and the good news that
there was yet a day before they could sail. The
KITTY'S CONQUEST. 287
colonel and his sister were going to attend te
some business on Canal Street, and hurry back
to meet him at the lodgings at half-past two ; then
they would all drive up to see the review near
Tivoli Circle. Would I join them ? Amory was
to command the troop, as the doctor thought
Major Yinton not yet strong enough to ride.
But where was Amory ? had I seen him ?
All this was asked rapidly, as time was short,
and almost as rapidly I learned that Kitty was at
home, and Pauline's eyes plainly said waiting
and anxious. I decided on driving thither at
once and confessing the enormity of my sin of
omission. I would find her in their kind land-
lady's parlor, said Miss Summers. So in I went.
In ten minutes Kitty Carrington fluttered into
the parlor where I was awaiting her. No need
to tell that hers had been a night of unhappiness,
a day of bitter anxiety. Her sweet face was very
pale and wan, her eyes red with weeping. How
to break my news I did not know. She looked
wonderingly, wistfully, at the solemnity of my
face, gave me her hand with hardly a word of
greeting, and stood by the table waiting for me
to tell my errand, forgetful of the civility of ask-
ing me to be seated.
" Miss Kitty, I am in great trouble. Nearly
three hours ago I volunteered to hurry down to
the levee with a letter that Major Yinton had for
Mr. Amory, but Mr. Amory and I missed each
288 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
other, have missed each other ever since. He
has gone somewhere with his mother, and yet
must be back in time for the review, but I felt
certain that letter ought to get to him at once.
'Yet you know they do not sail until to-morrow,
do you not?"
Her head was averted, her slight form was
quivering and trembling, her bosom heaving vio-
lently in the effort to control the sob that, despite
all struggles, burst from her lips. She had been
waiting for him all the morning. In another
moment, for all answer, she had thrown herself
upon the sofa, and was weeping in a wild passion
of unrestrained misery. Poor little motherless
Kit ! and this was my doing.
In vain I strove to soothe her. In vain I pro-
tested that the letter would soon be in his hands,
that no possible harm could come from the delay.
!N"ay, in my eagerness and ludicrous distress I
believe I knelt and strove to draw her hands away
from her face. Then she hurriedly arose, rushed
to the window, and leaning her arms upon the
casement, and bowing her pretty head upon her
hands, sobbed wildly. Good heavens ! what could
such an old idiot do ? I was powerless, helpless,
Suddenly there came a springy step along the
lower passage, a quick, bounding footfall on the
•stair, the clink of spurred heels upon the matting
in the hall, and Frank Amory, with a world of
KITTY'S CONQUEST. 289
sunshine in his glad youno; face, stood at the door-
way. One glance showed him where she stood,
still weeping piteously, still blind to his jDresence.
One spring took him half across the room, one
second to her side. I heard but one quick, low-
toned, almost ecstatic cry.
" Kitty ! darling ! Forgive me !"
I saw his arms enfold her. I saw her raise her
head, startled, amazed. Saw one wondering
flash of light and joy in the tear-dimmed eyes,
but of what happened next I have no knowledge,
not even conjecture. For once in his life Mr.
Brandon had the decency not to look, the sagac-
ity to know that he was no longer needed, if in-
deed he ever had been, and the presence of mind
to take himself oif.
Later that lovely afternoon an open carriage
whirled up St. Charles Street towards old Tivoli
Circle. Its occupants were Miss Summers and
Kitty Carrington, Colonel Summers and myself.
At the Circle we were joined by another, in
which were seated Mrs. Amory, Madame II ,
and Major Vinton. We were late, it seems, and
the review had already begun, so there was no
time for conversation between the carriage-
loads ; but smiles and nods and waving hands
conveyed cheery greeting, and Kitty's cheeks
flamed ; her eyes, half veiled as though in shy
emotion, followed Mrs. Amory 's kindly face
until their carriage fell behind ; then, detecting
me as usual in my occupation of watching her,
she colored still more vividly, and looking
bravely, saucily up into my face, remarked, —
" "Well, Mr. Brandon, have you nothing to say
to me? Are you aware that you have not even
remarked upon the beauty of the weather this
And this was from the girl whom, hardly two
hours before, I had seen plunged in the depths
of woe and dejection. Verily, there was nothing
KITTY'S CONQUEST. 291
I could say. Such alternations of smiles and
tears, storm and sunshine, exceeded my compre-
hension; but it was not a tax upon even my
poor powers of discernment to see that my little
heroine was now blissfully, radiantly, joyously
Suddenly our carriage slackened speed. Crowds
began to appear on the sidewalks of the broad,
dusty thoroughfare. We were off" the pavement
now, and driving along the " dirtroad" of upper
St. Charles Street. I could hear a burst of
martial music somewhere ahead, and presently
Pauline exclaimed, " Here are the cavalry !"
Kitty, sitting on the indicated side, had said
never a word. The next moment we rode past
the line of troopers sitting stolidly on their horses
and looking blankly into space ahead of them.
Then, riding backwards as I was, I saw Kitty's
soft cheek flushing redder, and happening to ex-
tend my left arm outwards at that instant, my
hand almost came in contact with the nose of a
tall chestnut sorrel, much to that sorrel's disgust,
for he set back his ears and glanced savagely at
me; but by that time, I had lost all interest in
him and was gazing in amaze at his rider. For
something absolutely incomprehensible, com-
mend me to military love-making! Less than
two hours ago I had bolted out of a room down-
town leaving that deliciously pretty young girl
opposite me sobbing in the arms of Frank
292 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
Amory, who, with all a devoted lover's tenderness,
was striving to comfort her. Yet here she sat,
apparently indifferent ; yet there he sat on that
very horse whose feelings I had outraged, and
though we — no, she — was right under his eyes, —
so close that she could stroke his charg-er's mane
with her little hand, — he never -so much as
glanced at her. Mr. Frank Amory, as com-
manding officer of his troop on review, actually
disdained to look at his lady-love.
'■'■ Noio if at any time," thought I, "this little
imp of coquetry will flash into flame and wither
him when they meet, — perhaps flirt with me,
fauie de mieux, meantime," hut to my utter
amaze Miss Kitty took it as admirably as did
Pauline. Each gave him one quick, demure,
satisfied little look, as much as to say, " All
right, Frank, I understand." They had learned
their tactics already, I suppose, and I — was an
inferior being, unable to appreciate the situatioi.
in the least.
The review went oif all right, I also suppose.
It was all a blank to me. The general and his
aides rode down the line and our carriages had
to get out of the way in a hurry. Then the
troops marched over to Camp Street and down
that thoroughfare, giving a marching salute as
they passed headquarters. We sat in our vehicles
on the opposite side of the street, and I simply
Btared when Amory lowered his sabre in sweep-
KITTY'S CONQUEST. 293
ing, graceful salute and positively looked away
from us, and at his chief. Why ! up to this time
I had been ready to take his part, and upbraid
Kitty whenever there had been the faintest dif-
ference between them. Now, now, I actually
wanted her to resent his conduct ; and, with the
unerring inconsistency of feminine nature, she
did nothing of the kind. The instant the march
was over, Frank Amory came trotting up beside
us, — a glad, glorious light in his brave young
eyes, — sprang from his saddle and to her side.
The others he did not appear to see at all. Ilis
eyes were for her alone, for her in all their boy-
ish adoration, in all their glowing pride and ten-
derness. Tearing off his gauntlet, he clasped
her hand before a word was said, and she looked
shyly, yet steadfastly, down into his transfigured
" I shall be down right after stables ; mother
will come sooner," was all he said. Then he
condescended to notice the rest of us.
Right after stables indeed ! Could you not
even resent thai, Kitty Carrington ? "Were you
already so abject that a newly-won lover dare
tell you that after his horses were seen to he
would look after you ? Are you already falling
into the cavalry groove ? learning that unwritten
creed that puts the care of his mount as the
corner-stone of a trooper's temple ?
In a state of daze I drove homeward with the
294 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
ladies. ITobody talked much. Everybody was
happy except my perturbed self. Pauline and
Kitty sat hand in hand. We reached the lodg-
ings, and were but a few moments in the parlor
when Yinton appeared at the door ushering Mrs.
Amory. Kitty was at the window arranging
some flowers, but turned instantly, and, blushing
like one of her own rosebuds, walked rapidly
across the room, looking shyly up into the elder
lady's face. How could I help seeing the moist-
ened eye, the slightly quivering lip, when Mrs.
Amory bent and, with one softly-spoken word,
" dear," kissed the bonny face.
We masculines took ourselves off for a while.
It was plain the women had much to talk about,
and when they have, the sooner husbands,
brothers, and lovers leave, the better for all con-
" Mr. Brandon," said the major, as we settled
ourselves on the back veranda, "it looks as
though your prognostication had come true.
Our Sandbrook Ku-Klux affair has brought its
romance with it."
" Two of them, major ! Two of them ! "We
might call them, in view of your modest estimate
of army attractions, ' Miss Summers' Sacrifice*
and, and "
" Kitty's Conquest," said Harrod.
Swiftly through a tawny waste of whirling
KITTY'S CONQUEST. 296
waters a great steamer ploughs its way. From
towering smoke-stacks volumes of smoke stream
back along the tumbling wake and settle on the
low-lying shores. Breasting the torrent, we have
rushed past crowded levee, past sloop, and ship,
and shallop, past steamers of every class and
build, ocean cruisers, river monarchs, bayou
traders, swamp prowlers. Lordly up-stream
packets lead or follow ; churches, domes, chim-
neys, cotton-presses, elevators, warehouses, give
way to low, one-storied, whitewashed cottages,
or deep-veranda'd frame homesteads on the one
side, to flat and open plantations on the other.
Eastward there is naught to span the horizon
but one far-reaching level of swamp or trem-
bling prairie. Westward, two miles back from
the river-bank, bold barriers of forest, dense,
dark, and impenetrable, shut off the view. In
front lies the eddying, swirling, boiling bosom
of the Mississippi, — the winding highway to the
North, — sweeping in majestic curve through
shores of shining green. Behind us, nestling
along the grand arcs of its doubling bend, l^ew
Orleans and Algiers, close clinging to the mighty
stream that at once threatens and cajoles. The
river is master here, yet dreams not of his
Precious freight our steamer bears this bright
and balmy eve. Proud of its strength and grace,
it surges ahead, rumbling in the vast caverns of
296 KITTrS CONqUEST.
its seething furnaces, panting in the depths of
its powerful lungs, straining with muscles that
glory in their task, hurling aside from iron-shod
beak the burdened billows of the opposing river.
Black as Erebus the clouds of smoke from tower-
ing chimneys, white as snow the screaming
steam-jets, deep and mellow the note of signal-
bell, clear, ringing, rollicking the farewell chorus
of our swarthy crew. Boom ! goes the roar of
saucy little field-piece in parting salutation to
the sun, redly sinking through the forest to our
left, and then, from the lower deck, what un-
accustomed sound is that? A trumpet, a cavalry
trumpet sounds the final tribute to departing day,
and a moment later a young oflicer comes spring-
ing from below and joins our group upon the
Here enjoying the scene, the gliding rush of
our gallant craft, the balmy softness of the South-
ern air, we are seated, an almost silent party of
seven. We are Mrs. Amory, Miss Summers, and
Kitty; Major Vinton, Mr. Amory, Harrod, and
myself. We are fellow-passengers for the even-
ing only. The troop, men and horses both, is
billeted below, and under command of its young
lieutenant goes through to St. Louis, thence up
the Missouri to its new sphere of duties in the
far Northwest. Vinton is a passenger as far as
Memphis, where escorting Mrs. Amory, he takes
the train to Washington The rest of us, Pauline,
KITTY'S CONQUEST. 297
Kitty, Harrod, and I, go only up to Donaldsonville,
where we arrive late at night, and take the local
packet back to the city. In all the excitement
and perturbation consequent upon the sudden
departure of the troop ; in all the hurry of prep-
aration, requiring as it did the attention of both
officers, there was no time for the interviews, the
fond partings, the " sweet sorrows" incident to
such occasions. An unusual thing occurred, — a
bright idea struck Mr. Brandon. He proposed
that the quartette should accompany the troop a
short way up the river and there drink with them
the stirrup-cup ; and at last a proposition of Mr.
Brandon's was regarded worthy of acceptance.
So it happens that we are here together.
Evening comes on apace, and while Harrod is
smoking somewhere forward, and our cavalry-
men are paired off and slowly promenading the
deck with the ladies of their love, Mrs. Amory
and I are chatting quietly in the brilliant saloon,
and we are talking of Mars. Her voice is soft
and tremulous ; her face is full of trust and
peace ; her eyes fondly follow him and the sweet,
girlish form that hangs upon his arm as they
stroll forward again after a few loving words with
" You have been a good friend to my boy, Mr.
Brandon, and you will not forget him now on
the distant frontier. It will be late in the fall
before he can come East."
298 KITTrS CONQUEST.
" So long as that ! I had cherished some wild
Qotion that we might have a double ceremony,
when the major and Miss Summers are mar-
" No. That would be too precipitate. She is
very young yet ; so is Frank for that matter, but
he is thoroughly in earnest. It is not that I an-
ticipate any change of feeling, but it is best for
her sake there should be no undue haste. She
will spend the time with Miss Summers until
that wedding comes off, then visit relations in the
North during the summer. Then ' Aunt Mary'
will doubtless claim her. You know that as yet
' Aunt Mary' has had no intimation of what has
been going on. Indeed, but for their sudden or-
ders for the field, I doubt very much if the young
people would have settled their outstanding dif-
ferences. She is a lovely child at heart, and
Frank has been a truthful and a devoted son," —
the dimmed eyes are filling now, and a tear starts
slowly down the warm cheek, — '- but he is im-
pulsive, impetuous, quick, and sensitive, and,
sweet as Kitty is, she has no little coquetry. It
will not all be smiles and sunshine, ' bread and
butter and kisses,' Mr. Brandon."
"Perhaps not, dear lady, perhaps not, yet I
have no fear. He is true and brave and stanch
as steel, and she is loving. God bless them I"
KITTrS CONQUEST. 299
Late at night. The lights of Donaldsonville
lie over our larboard bow. The broad river
glistens in the glorious sheen of silvery light from
the moon aloft. "We are gathered in the captain's
cabin on the texas and our glasses are filled.
Moet and Chandon sparkles over the brim.
" My charger is jangling his bridle and chain,
The moment is nearing, dear love, we must sever,
But pour out the wine, that thy lover may drain
A last stirrup-cup to his true maiden ever."
Mr. Brandon has the floor, and eloquence,
forensic, judicial, social, is fled. His idea is to
say something stirring and appropriate, but his
heart fails him. He can only stammer, " Bo7i
voyage, boys, and safe and speedy return !" Then
he slinks out into the shadow of the huge paddle-
box, a vanquished man.
What a thundering uproar is made by the sig-
nal-whistle of these Mississippi steamers ! The
boat fairly quivers from stem to stern in response
to the atmospheric disturbance created by the
long-drawn blasts. For two minutes at least, in
protracted, resounding, deep bellowing roar, that
immense clarion heralds our approach to drowsy
Donaldsonville. Three long-drawn blasts of
equal length, and while they din upon the drum
of the sensitive ear, not another sound can be
heard. I clasp my hands to my head and shud-
deringly cling to the guards. All other sensations
300 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
are deadened. Quick light footsteps approach,
but I hear them not. Two young hearts are
painfully beating close behind me, but I know it
not. Clasping arms and quivering lips are bid-
ding fond farewell so near that, could I but put
one hand around the corner of the narrow pas-
sage-way, it would light on a cavalry shoulder-
strap (the right shoulder, for the other is pre-
empted), but I see it not. Not until the deafening
uproar ceases with sudden jerk, am I aware of
what is going on almost at my invisible elbow.
I hear a long-drawn sibilant something that is
not a whistle, is not a hiss, yet something like ; I
hear a plaintive sob ; I hear a deep, manly voice,
tremulous in its tenderness. And again the mis-
erable conviction flashes over me that I'm just
where I ought not to be, — am not supposed to
be, — and yet cannot get out without ruining the
impressive climax. Forgive me, Kitty ! Forgive
me, Frank ! For years I've kept your secret. For
years you never suspected that you were over-
heard. Nearly all your story was jotted down
that very spring, but not this part, not this ; and
now that the brief chronicle is wellnigh closed, —
now that " this part" is as old a story as the rest,
and as the rest would be utterly incomplete with-
out just such a finale, can you not find it in your
hearts to forgive me for hearing your sweet and
sad and sacred farewell ? It was hard, it was
bitter trial ; it was so sudden, so brief. Yet my
KITTTS CONQUEST. 30I
heart went out to you, gallant and faithful young
Boldier, when I heard these words, " Five long
months at least, my darling. You will be true
to me, as, God knows, I will be to you ?"
And you, Kitty, rampant little rebel Kit, you
whom I had seen all coquetry, all mischief, all
tormenting, ivas it your voice, low, tremulous,
fond as his own, that I heard murmur, " Yes,
even if it were years."
A few moments more and four of us are stand-
ing on the wharf-boat, while the steamer, a bril-
liant illumination, ploughs and churns her way out
into the broad moonlit stream. Pauline is waving
her handkerchief to the group of three standing
by the flag-staff over the stern. Kitty, leaning
on my arm, trembles, but says no word. Tears
Btill cling to the long, fringing lashes. Lovely
are the humid eyes, the soft rounded cheek, the
parted lips. She throws one kiss with her little
white hand, and, as the gallant steamer fades
away in the distance, her myriad lights blending
into one meteoric blaze upon the bosom of the
waters, the cousins seek each other's eyes. Pau-
line bends and kisses the smooth white brow
and bravely drives back her own tears. Kitty
leans her bonny head one moment upon the
sheltering arm that is then so lovingly thrown
around her, relieving mine, and lays her little
hand upon her shoulder. A new ring glistens
in the moonlight. Tiny crossed sabres stand
302 KITTY'S CONQUEST.
boldly in relief upon the gold ; beneath them a
bursting shell, above them gleams the polished
stone with its sculptured motto. I know it well.
'Tis Amory's class ring, and his is the proud
device, ^^ Loyauie m'oblige."
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